Songs of Anthropocene

Sanjeev Khandekar and Vaishali Narkar


Songs of Anthropocene[1], a series of works by Sanjeev Khandekar and Vaishali Narkar, dwells on the linkages between music, embroidery technique, and manmade nature.

Music is considered as the origin of language as it gets evolved through collation of sounds from nature. It further gets developed into various forms like folk or classical. Music is a kind of ‘lingua franca’ for everyone living on this planet; to exchange and share one’s self with the other. Ragamala[2] paintings from medieval India peculiarly present musical formations in an illustrative format. Iconographic experiments in these paintings bring out a close connection between nature and sonic compositions. The images and moods painted are based on certain iconographic forms developed over a period of a few hundred years that was rendered with local stylisations.

Songs of Anthropocene employs Ragamala iconography with alterations in order to address the changing sounds, their scales and textures in the context of climate change and genetic mutations as a result of human interventions in the environment. They may include sounds of machines, automobiles, satellite-launchers, war-tanks, sloganeering which impact the internal rhythmic music of human beings as well as ecology. The earth has been changing every day with much faster speed than before hitherto unwitnessed. Therefore, her music is also being evolved.

The use of embroidery in Songs of Anthropocene is an attempt to provide an interface, a medium to understand and reflect on what we are doing as human society as a whole. Embroidery has a lot to share with music and its structure. Music is like ‘weaving’ a thread into a composition. The weaving, stitching, knitting, knotting, interlacing, spinning, winding, twisting, the sinuous and curved threading, tangling, or unwinding into a labyrinthine is an experience of touching or viewing the abstract and original molecules of music.

The artist duo, Sanjeev Khandekar and Vaishali Narkar connect musicality and embroidery with the concept of helical structure, a shape resembling a thread or a weave that forms the DNA molecule in any living organism. By making these connections, they address the mutating or changing ecological as well as cultural environments that we live in. With suggestions to the iconographic details of Ragamala paintings such as Raga Bhairav, Raga Basant or Ragini Todi; their embroidered works depict the distorted figure of the Raga Bhairav or Ragini Todi with the backdrop of expanding horizons and a jharokha. There are also depictions of human skeletons as folk performers with a backdrop of rapidly expanding urban landscapes or skeletons of deer with a large size plastic bottle at the center of the horizontal divisions showing genetic mutations.

[1]             Anthropocene is (a recent terminology) proposed epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on the earth’s geology & ecosystems.

[2]             Ragamala (a garland of Ragas) paintings are a series of illustrative paintings from medieval India depicting Indian musical modes or Ragas. Amalgamation of art, poetry and classical music, the Ragamala paintings are practised for centuries in India.

Sanjeev Khandekar and Vaishali Narkar are visual artists based in Mumbai. Working collaboratively, they are consistently following their concerns about global warming, climate change, anthropocene through their visual works, writings and poetry for last fifteen years.




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