MUMBAI.- For the inaugural International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Ukraine, titled Arsenale 2012, Jitish Kallat will be presenting a freestanding light-projection of a historic letter written by Gandhi to Hitler. One could possibly describe it as a letter written by the worlds greatest advocate of peace to one of the most violent individuals that ever lived, urging him to reconsider his violent means.
This projected letter, which will be seen ascending from below, rising like a looped scroll, will appear like a flat illuminated document in the middle of the space that the audience can pass through with their bodies touching Gandhi's words.
In 1939 Gandhi attempted correspondence with Adolf Hitler, with a view of persuading the dictator to the values of non-violence. What is interesting is that during a meeting with Lord Halifax in 1938, Hitler had pledged his support to the preservation of the British empire and offered his formula of mass slaughter beginning with the killing of leaders like Gandhi and, if need be, by eliminating as many people as required for the Indian people to give up any hope for independence.
Despite this, Gandhi in his short letter of merely seven sentences refers to Hitler as a friend going by his "doctrine of universal friendship". In a later letter to Hitler he explains his position vis-à-vis the British- "
We seek to convert them, not to defeat them on the battlefield.
Kallats series of works titled Public Notice are well known. Most recently his solo exhibition titled Public Notice 3 - referring to the first World Parliament of Religions that took place on 11th September 1893 - was on display for an entire year in 2010-11 at the Art Institute of Chicago, and his work titled Public Notice 2 was exhibited at the Hall of Nations at the Kennedy Center in Washington in 2011. With Covering Letter Kallat continues his continued preoccupation with the historical, bringing forth a 73-year-old letter for reflection.
On display from 17 May - 30 July 2012.
Jitish Kallat Epilogue, 2010/ 11 at Art Basel's Art/Unlimited
In this deeply moving, multi-part, photographic work, Mumbai-based artist Jitish Kallat retraces his fathers life through all the moons witnessed from the day he was born on 2 April 1936 to the day of his untimely death on 2 December 1998. Measuring his fathers lifespan with the approximately 22,000 moons that he saw in the 62 years of his life, each moon is represented by a progressively eaten roti (Indian bread). The last moon he saw was on the night of 1 December 1998 leaving the last frame of Epilogue dark and empty, barring that single moon which appears almost like a full stop.
A meditation on time, Epilogue also serves as a metaphor for sustenance, as a script inscribed in the night sky waxing and waning between abundance and dearth. Walking through the winding maze of the work, the viewer perhaps begins a parallel journey, locating a particular night from ones own life-path, encountering several questions about life enshrined in there.