sharmila samant at the biennale of sydney 2008 sharmila samant at the biennale of sydney 2008
aug 24, 2008

sharmila samant at the biennale of sydney 2008

installation view of ‘against the grain’ by sharmila samant at the biennale of sydney 2008
image © designboom

the museum of contemporary art at the biennale of sydney is also the venue of indian artist sharmila samant’s installation ‘against the grain’. made up of BT cotton, camphor, 1000 paddy craft objects(snakes) and metal stands, the work is broken up into three-parts – against the grain, sounds of the silenced and gilt. samant’s installation for the 2008 biennale discusses the effects of genetic engineering and is a tribute to the agricultural crisis in india and its victims. ‘against the grain’ fills the gallery space with a field of raw cotton which is scattered with 1000 woven snakes which have been made in the traditional method of dhana kaam (paddy craft). for the project, samant collaborated with the devguniya, an indigenous community from bolangir. in devguniya, they traditionally collect grain and interweave it with thin, hair-like strips of bamboo for plaiting, which are then formed into various objects and figures. the form of a cobra was chosen, whose venom symbolizes a hidden threat during the harvest – the death which is associated with genetically modified grain and the current agricultural problems which india is facing.

accompanying the work is ‘sounds of the silenced’ in which barrels for seed storage have been collected from across india. these empty containers act as resonance chambers in which a soundscape of women can be heard singing while planting and harvesting in the fields. the last element of the overall installation is ‘gilt’ which will be an auction of rice sculptures held on september 6, 2008. money raised will be donated to the victims of suicides which have been a result of crop failures and shortage of seeds for harvesting.

‘against the grain’ by sharmila samant, 2008 image © designboom

‘against the grain’ by sharmila samant image © designboom

‘against the grain’ by sharmila samant, 2008 image © designboom

‘against the grain’ by sharmila samant, 2008 image © designboom

detail of ‘against the grain’ by sharmila samant, 2008 image © designboom

detail of ‘against the grain’ by sharmila samant, 2008 image © designboom


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