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Museum of Memories

Archaeological sites and their conservation inspire the works of Debashish Mukherjee.

Written by Pallavi Chattopadhyay |
September 27, 2016 5:30:33 am
art and culture, debashish mukherjee exhibition, exhibition in delhi, delhi exhibition, india news, indian express, Benaras is an abstract representation of the holy city.

A geometrical maze of symmetrical steps, made of wood and paper, lead into a path deep underground. The untitled work on display at Akar Prakar Art Advisory gallery in Hauz Khas Village reminds one of the Chand Baori, one of the deepest and largest stepwells in India, built a thousand years ago in the Abhaneri village of Rajasthan. Artist Debashish Mukherjee adorns the installation with tiny windows on its periphery, hiding mirrors that reflect the viewer on being opened. His first solo exhibition, titled “The Museum Within”, is an effort to understand key historical sites in our country and the pressing issue of their conservation.

The 25 works on display have been inspired largely by sites of the Indus Valley Civilisation, such as Dholavira in the Rann of Kutch of Gujarat, Rakhigarhi village in Hisar and Banawali located on the bank of the dried up bed of the Saraswati river in Haryana. Curator Kanika Anand says, “The show is Mukherjee’s personal expression based on archaeological places he has visited over the last 20 years, where he has seen people squatting, engraving their initials or throwing garbage. The show asks why museums are not better custodians of artifacts and why we, as people, do not help in preserving them.”

In one work, Mukherjee,43, has stacked 150 layers of newspaper as a metaphor for time and culture. He has lined it with white grid-like plans, much like archaeologists do before excavation to create a precise map of the site. In his “white cube series”, tiny objects such as nail-sized terracotta pots and human faces appear like excavated artifacts.

The artist also lends an aerial and modern view of the old parts of Varanasi in Benaras. He presents abstract representations of its serpentine lanes, the lingam, constricted staircases hidden within its brick houses and the ghats, in the form of 20 sculpted tablets, arranged in two rows to present the architecture of the city where his maternal family belongs and where he studied art. About the title of the show, Mukherjee says, “Everyone has a museum within them, where art, culture and memories are kept. We pull out from those memories.”

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The exhibition is on at

29, Block D Hauz Khas Road till

November 5. Contact: 26868558

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