Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Placebo Effect

“Placebo” or a sugar pill is a medical treatment for patients suffering from a psychological predicament who believe the medication will cure their problem. Artist L.N. Tallur’s recent body of work reflects this phenomenon very discreetly. His works have several layers of social, political religious undertones, which cleverly integrate to express the subject. Tallur was a student of Museology, and later trained under the late acclaimed painter Bhupen Khakar, whose imagery was audaciously filled with covert wit. Although his works have a “post-conceptualist” extraction, his installations have many traditional insignia, which are translated into philosophical or contemporary concepts and a collage of technology.

We believe that we are moving ahead with the world, pacified with the way of life. We have problems, we have solutions, not knowing if these are really the problems or the solutions will indeed solve them. There are so many options through which we continue to live our lives, hoping for the problems to be solved ‘some day’. A classic example of this concept is Tallur’s work, “Souvenir Maker (2) – Designed in America, Conceptualized in India, Made in China, Sponsored by Korea… We are Conditioned to Think Under Flags”. Created in 2009, this work is a barbed wire making machine, with the national anthem of 40 countries playing on repeat in the background and alongside displayed 17 Karat gold plated barbed wire in several glass jars. A complex installation, Tallur describes this work as a ‘contradiction between human freedom and Global capitalism’. The barbed wire is relevant to geographical and political boundaries that divide cultures and people in a global utopian world. He has shrewdly cut small lengths of the wire, plated them in gold and displayed them in glass jars as a souvenir. In turn calling this a “souvenir making machine”