Review by Oiendrila Moitra
November 15, 2013


Salt: The Great March
Recent Works by Shelly Jyoti
IGNCA, New Delhi
September 28 to October 20, 2013

In her exhibition Shelly Jyoti focusses on the history of India's colonial past and Mahatma Gandhi's 1930's historic march of Salt Satyagraha, which eventually became one of the most important events in the history of Modern India.

She has tried to explore the possibilities and alternative theories in the present context that can be derived from Gandhian philosophy of swadharma' and sarvodaya'. In the present patriarchal society where the existence of women is constantly threaten by the manipulative masculine gender; the re-introduction of the Gandhian philosophy may stir a significant change of the outlook of the society.

Her new works feature a large khadi fabric with Sanskrit calligraphic print as a site specific installation, two sculptural installations of khadi yarn (aatis) and pipe cleaners, twenty five contemporary artworks with azrakh dyeing/ printing incorporating needle work on khadi fabric and multimedia spoken poetry.

Jyoti's art works on azrakh textiles explore social activism propounded by Gandhian philosophy of sarvodya which means upliftment of all. The works have been done in collaboration with azrakh artisans of Bhuj, who faced and are still recovering from the disastrous earthquake. ÒI have been working with 9th and 10th generation azrakh artisan in Bhuj since 2009. ÊMy aesthetic decisions regarding this textile printing and dyeing technique are informed by elaborate textile processes that go into creating one artwork. To enhance the textile art, I have further used traditional needle craft technique with Sujni and nakshi kantha (running stitch needle work) stitches belonging to eastern India primarily done by Hindu women dating back to the 18th century. These have been created by using the skills of women's collectives in India.

One of another fascinating work is a 12 feet wide by 8 feet installation titled ÔRe-wiring A Non-violent Society', which is made of lightweight materials such as pipe cleaners, fabric, plastic, wire and thread. To be created like an interactive installation that encourages audience participation, as a throwback to Gandhi's mass movements, this is a work in progress by the artist in the gallery.

The primary significance and aesthetics of Jyoti's work lies in the interconnection that she has succeeded in establishing a contextual bridge between the historical facsimiles and the present issues. The contemporary problems can find their ways of solution if being correctly and intricately re-visited the past, the correctness of the age-old and great philosophies of the reformers can be contemporize in any time referring to today's problems.