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  • Debora Mo

Making Art in the Punjab (the second time around)

Updated: Jun 23, 2022

Re-edited blog post

My time at the Preet Nagar Residency (North India), in February 2016, provided me with much needed space to reflect on my approach, both in terms of process and of subject matter. My conversations with the wonderful young filmmaker and artist Ratika Singh, led to the suggestion of a possible future collaboration around the theme of ‘dreams and nightmares’, as well as to an afternoon of improvisational installation-making centred on this same theme plus another of interest to me, that of killing over allegiances to flags and creeds.

Though not quite a full collaboration - more of a rapid and intuitive response to what was emerging from conversations with another artist - it was a welcome departure from my usual process. A cocktail of sympathetic hearts and minds at the Residency, with different mediums and approaches, had ignited something. To let suggestions emerge so as to construct something immediately on site ( as opposed to taking that inspiration back to the studio and working in detail on something for later installation) felt fresh.

The inspiration for the two subjects – Ratika’s Dream and Death by Cloth – came from life stories belonging to Ratika and her family, some of which included tragic circumstances. These experiences retold and shared I interpreted in my own way, folding in my own emotions and thoughts. In a sense, I appropriated and fashioned them into two moments on a grey afternoon which belong to the realm of the dark fairy tale and to that of an abstraction of violence. I did this, I hope, without ever losing respect for the reality of the terrible real life events which generated them. I believe in the power of a symbolic telling, in its ability to narrate something which is sometimes hard to hear, and to do so in a way that will keep it floating in your consciousness for a very long time. The work in these photographs has not yet acquired these properties, it would be arrogant to imply it. They are quick sketches, simple notations. Notations in that spirit.

Installation by Debora Mo – Photos R.Singh (Copyright © 2016 Ratika Singh)

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