Review by Amrita Varma
February 15, 2015


The Land of Nod
Achi Anzi
January 19 to February 24, 2015
Gallery Threshold, New Delhi

As you enter the gallery on the left is an unobtrusive telephone booth painted the bright yellow with the STD PCO markings. One wonders if it is an actual booth. When you enter into it, you enter a different world. The noise of the street and static increases and as you try to make sense of it your sense of time is blown away with the sound piece and the fans which throw up air and rotate noisily drowning you in their movement and energy. Then it all shuts down. The process makes you edgy and as you step out you have actually lost sense of time and space. This is Achia’s initiation to the show titled The Land of Nod.

Being an immigrant and having adopted India as home, Achia ponders over the process of transmigration in a very humourous yet serious way. There are the sleeping births of the Indian railways with worn out fabric suggesting the process of transmigration and connecting to ‘nod’ in a pun as sleep along with its biblical sense.

The work called Bara Khamba consists of huge, round, hollow pillars of concrete which give you the feeling of it being meant to be placed somewhere lying there yet not yet in a place.

There is a taxi meter which takes you into energy of moving to and from, the drain reflecting light sees you wondering of the many paths you may have taken and the milestone is interesting in its context of its indication of the place of rest yet of movement to a land of promise.

There is a clock meter which reflects coordinated times of various places in the world and one is left wondering where one is and what to make out it, precisely the way rooting and uprooting in the process of transmigration does.

The bath tub with the reminants of once carefully crafted pillars suggest a rich history yet it is an absurd sight with some part of the water filling into the tub rippling its way and flowing out somewhere unknown. That absurdity is intended and makes one feel out of their shell in a strange way. It also has an underlying sense of humour, which is delicately carved into the context of each work.

There is a glass rod one almost misses but in its stillness it gives one the feeling of space and its negotiations. The corridor has the hand holder found in buses, they are again going somewhere but where? One feels a bit uncomfortable and the sense of being in a closeted space is evoked.

One of the very interesting works is a set of two large installations on the walls. One filled with concrete stones, in disarray and kept together with wire meshing and the other a mud stained and painted base with a potted plant dry and climbing with its bare creeper like forms throwing these delicate wiry shadows on the base.

It is a dance of being pushed in and pulling oneself out and the nature of light hearted knowing of being which comes in that journey. The splashes of paint on the rough concrete and stains remind one of the natural process of weathering as one goes on in the walks of life.

At another end of the gallery is the Chulha, a burner with the filaments which radiate  heat and light used in tea stalls across the country. There is a decrepit tin guard around to suggest the same.This burner radiates heat and just when one is comfortable it goes away, developing a sense of repeated frustration. A sense of displacement yet a journey towards belonging settles in the works.

Walking into the gallery one had no idea what one was about to engage with. One thing was clear though after being with the works. This show is a show which builds its layers into you as one goes into it and leaves you in that state much after for days. After a long time I have come across of such tenor and credibility.

For its very serious and effective dialogue on transmigration and its movement and for the delicate humour, that slides into the work with its various connotations and profound experiences this show is a serious show well worth engaging for hours with.