Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Fatalist's Game

'The Fatalist Game' is a video art with the philosophical comment on the uncontrolled situations in today’s so called developed societies. Think any of them and you are connected with this video. The game blocks used in this video act as a sign of situations which happen in the lives of all of us where we feel helpless. Often these situations are beyond our control. In such moments we either accept the situation or fight it. But in both cases results are negligible during the lifespan of a person (which is even much shorter now a day). 

In the globalized world the consumerism has created a situation of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, and also this system is using up natural resources as if they are never going to deplete. When I see this situation, as an artist, I feel that this situation is beyond my control or anybody's control. Fighting with this problem is of no use as they say this product is for the betterment of humanity and that product too and so on. But I can’t accept this situation completely because I am not able to breath fresh air. Today I am suffering minor allergies from dust and smoke. Tomorrow it can be major, who would be responsible then? What if I would not be able to afford to get my major allergies repaired??? 

They say cars are necessary for comfortable drive but I am not even able to drive bike safely, not even a bicycle. Then who would decide what is enough and when??? These are just small examples. It’s not about me and my problems or about my affordability about things. When I think as a human I feel it is about all of us. We have to decide what we need and how much we need. Otherwise digging our own graves wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The concept of 'TFG' was with me for the last 8-10 months and when I discussed it with a couple of friends they liked the idea very much but we couldn't manage time and confidence as our first video was a sort of failure (as we were not able to complete it due to some reasons). But this idea stuck very deep inside and I wanted to do it at any cost. And finally and again when I asked Joyel (my best buddy, well wisher, motivator, a believer in my ideas - net net all in one package) in October end, he promised to give his all support for this project. 

During this discussion, after 8-10 months, I knew one thing additionally that I am going to showcase it virtually on whatsApp space, which was never done before by any artist, by inviting people on a particular time and date for this kind of virtual showcasing, as far as my knowledge is concerned. So I designed this video for smart phone users. It served my two purposes. One, it is like the viewer is having a video game console in his hands and not able to control. Second, smart phones are best example for stating my purpose. I wanted an additional open discussion and feedback on the spot by viewers on this video within the group.   

Invitation Poster of 'TFG'

It took 7 continues days to make this video as me or Joyel were not very technically sound. I am happy the way I got the responses and the way the whole work was executed. I am thankful for my dear friend Joyel for his all support. I feel blessed for having such few friends who stands in all my ups and downs.      

Friday, 14 November 2014

Territory of the Winner

Although it is a bit late writing about this work, I feel it is important, as it is one of the milestones for me as an art practitioner. The official opening was on 20th September 2014, which is sponsored by Alliance fran├žaise de delhi, Gurgaon Centre:   S-24/8 DLF Phase III, Gurgaon, Haryana - 1122001.  

Opening day of Exhibition
The idea of the exhibition was to create and showcase works representing the Changing Landscape 
of Gurgaon and National Capital Region. The seeds of this work are hidden in the philosophical ideas of life, death and reality, and this get confirmed when this quote is read: 

 for whom the whole world was not sufficient.
A tomb now suffices him
- Alexander the

  Based on these ideas I executed an interactive art in HCU named 'Dargah-e-Ayenaah'.When it comes to the ‘Territory of the Winner’, all these ideas are fused together. When I was thinking about the landscape and changes that happened in Gurgaon, I just felt one thing - 'We are digging our own grave' in the name of development. So I created a city landscape as grave and placed the most common element of city on it - The Cars. The bigger the car you have, the more successful you are. I am not saying this. It is a massively accepted notion nowadays. How big your home is, which car you drive, which brand you wear, and all. People judge you through this only. 

Making the 'Territory of the Winner'
So writing, Winner with cars on the grave is purely a comment. And of course, as far as the execution part is concerned I made every on looker as a winner using the same technique that I used for the 'Dargah-e-Ayenaah', live capturing them through a smart phone's wireless camera and projecting them on the grave with the help of a monitor.  

viewers can see themselves as 'Winner' in the monitor
At the end I would like to thanks Vasanthi Gupta, Head of Alliance fran├žaise de delhi, Gurgaon Centre, for giving me this opportunity to showcase my works.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


Invitation card for Dargah-e-Ayenaah
The idea of Dargah-e-Ayenaah started building up in my mind because of my spiritual journey during the last two years and some sort of extension of my previous work "We Are the Lights, Within". But this time it came out in the form of Dargah with some modern digital settings.

Dargah-e-Ayenaah is my attempt to understand the often occurring questions about the self- The philosophical quest, that implores us to ask ourselves who we are? Why we are here? Why somebody is born rich and someone else poor? What is the relation between different living beings? Is there anything in common which connects everybody, regardless of their age, gender, location, race, colour or physical appearences? If that link is the existence of God or the supernatural, super-conscious, an absolute entity which is a general belief system of almost every human being? If so, then what is God? What does God look like? Where does He stays? Where can we find Him? Is He indeed real?

still from Dargaj-e-Ayenaah
Dargah-e-Ayenaah is not rationally proved or an absolute truth. It is my belief that we all have the same spark of that Absolute energy or power which governs the universe. Much like the light of a candle light in comparison to that of a huge 'hawan kund' fire. The fire of both, the candle and 'hawan-kund' have the same ability to give light and heat.

In chapter 10, verse 42 of Bhagavad-Gita, Bhagwan Shree Krishna saying to Arjuna

yad yad vibhutimat sattvam srimad urjitam eva va
tat tad evavagaccha tvam mama tejo-'msa-sambhavam
Which translates into:
Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations
spring from but a spark of My splendor.

In all honesty, I really don't know about the authenticity of these kind of books. Whether they are true or not. But I know one thing, and that is, when you really want to satisfy your thirst, you have to dig, and dig deep on a chosen spot, and indeed you shall find water there. So I choose to believe that if we really want to know God, we have to look within rather than searching him in temples, mosques or dargahs- all of which exist outside the self. Ironically, I havechosen the setting of a Dargah for my installation- in order to convey my belief and idea.

-Kunal Kalra

My Special thanks to Sunil Sir, Faiza Hasan, Ajay Kohli, Joyel Pious for their guidance, love, affection and support for this project.

Monday, 31 March 2014

First National Exhibition @ Lalit Kala - New Delhi

How one should react on a news that his or her work is selected for National Level competition conducted by Lalit Kala Akademi - New Delhi?

 Yeah, I felt good when I received one mail from Lalit Kala Akademi asking me to send the original artwork for the second round of jury. But I was not so excited that time, for being shortlisted, as my mind was saying that it’s not a big thing. It might be because I did not want to send my entry this time. I send my work at the last moment with a thought that nothing would happen. I remember, one of my professors, ex HoD, department of Art Education, Jamia Millia Islamia, Mr. M.G. Kidwai, used to tell me that all these competitions are like winning a lottery ticket. Sending your entry just means that you are buying a lottery ticket and you will not win the lottery until and unless you don’t buy one. He motivated me  always  to send the entries for awards and competitions. 

When I read this article in The Hindu, dated March 20, 2014 stating that out of this mind-boggling number of 6,583 artworks only 168 artists were shortlisted for the final jury and I was one of them, I realized that I should cherish what life gave me. It’s not something big that I achieved but it is something good enough to keep me moving and motivating me on my journey towards my search.

I couldn't attend the exhibition opening due to some priorities in Hyderabad, but my heart was there. I was very curious about how my work would be displayed there and how people would be reacting on seeing the political comment in my work. Two days back when I received photographs of the show I felt so delighted and blessed. It assured me that I am moving on the right path. The path which is giving me satisfaction, happiness and a sense of oneness (with my work).  
Extreme Right : 'Who Will Dare To Pull'
photo courtesy : Amrita Kumari (MFA - Jamia Millia Islamia)

And at the end I would like to thank my friend Vanessa Saraceno, a Professional curator, who saw potential in my works and encouraged me to keep working.

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