Lyrics of Loss and Longing

Ishita Chakraborty’s practice maps the phenomenology of movement. White on white drawings are actually scratches on paper, much like the graffiti left behind by passersby in public spaces in India, ostensibly an act of vandalism, but also an assertion of identity and claim: I was here and now this space is as much a part of me as I am of that space. Her father’s work required moving places regularly in her childhood, and she also inherited from him, a land-reforms officer, a consciousness of maps and terrain, an aesthetic that prevails in her work. Zwischen | between describes a transitory situation. It is about wandering through space and time. Collecting testimonies from nomads such as herself, often nomadic not by choice but as a result of inevitabilities, she asks them to leave her words as if they were leftovers from a meal. From this process of “deep listening” emerges poetic verses which inform her drawings. The staccatoed form of her poetry, as much visual as it is conceptual, stands for the loss of voice, language, as well as the amnesia her subjects have encountered. In the drawing, hyphenated scratches fill in these blanks with the indelible rigours and pain of movement that words cannot contain. Her interest in voice led to the work Mute Tongue, which also starts with poetry on asylum seekers: Murad a young Somalian boy, and Anthony a Sri Lankan national who left his home country during the Civil War from whom Chakraborty collected stories. The sculptural work presents an audiograph of her reading the text out loud, cast in ceramic, as if to ensure that the narratives are always in motion, permanently spoken, never silenced. Her works propose that “the whole world is dwelling,” even if it means being with loss; disassembling impositions of home and origin on anyone.