PUBLIC ART GRANT 2008 | LOCHAN UPADHAYAY
Lochan Upadhayay's project titled Power of Cloth received the FICA (Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art) Public Art Grant 2008. This project is presented in collaboration with Sandarbh – an artist’s workshop. The jury consisting of Amar Kanwar, Lawrence Liang, Ashok Sukumaran and Vasudha Thozhur found that in Lochan’s project Power of Cloth the sheer physicality of the public installation presented great possibilities for interaction and engagement with the local community. The project takes into account the nuances of its location, in the rural area of Vagad, Rajastan, and the specific cultural contexts while involving with the communities there.
The project involves Lochan reconstructing a marriage-shamiana, which will define the visual vocabulary in addressing questions of marriage, the caste system and local social structures. Lochan plays around with the significance of cloth, and its varied values and importance in defining socio-political paradigms and power systems in India, particularly during marriage ceremonies. The central role that cloth plays in the lives of the people of Vagad was to him the point of departure for this project. The project is specific to the Vagad region in Rajasthan, and helps develop a dialogue between the artist and the local community (mostly tribal population), using the social tools most familiar to them.
The structures themselves are quite traditional in their look deriving inspiration from typical wedding celebrations from the area. The massive entrance way and two chairs which are inspired by local wedding decorations, where entrance ways are used to declare the names of the couple getting married and special chairs are made for the bride and groom. However Lochan has also constructed a shamiana from a large cloth on which he has printed images of different people exchanging gifts at numerous weddings from the locality. Through this project Lochan has tried to bring forth the various social issues associated with marriages like the caste system and dowry. The use of cloth as a medium is very important in this work as many a times people exchange gifts especially clothes to deviate attention from dowry as the concept is being looked down upon both socially and politically, hence many a times families cover up dowry as gifts. With this project Lochan has tried to address an issue that is prevalent throughout India but has used imagery that will be easily recognisable to his immediate audience.