04.-10.March 23 – Ajmal Shifaz: Echos of nothing

Ajmal Shifaz’s Echo of nothing is a merry-go-round. The numerous figures and creatures you will see adorning itsrevolving frame are the result of a curious, collective process of creation. Each of the figures was built by children in a neighbourhood near you. The material they worked their imaginations on, the strangely hued metallic objects you will see, were collected from neighbourhoods in northeast Delhi, affected by collective violence in early 2020, a little before we heard of the Coronavirus. These were the objects that survived. The objects survived not just the fires, but in the aftermath, they also managed to avoid being archived, for instance, as evidence in police investigations, or for insurance claims. Nor were these objects considered as a Memento Mori, something the holder might be reluctant to part with, although a melancholic attachment hovering like an aura over some objects was very much palpable. Finally, these objects were not given away as just junk, scrap, like certain other burnt objects that indeed found their way to dumpsites, some deemed not worthy even for scrap value. For reasons we don’t fully understand, these objects-an assortments of intimate household artefacts-survived, after a fire, an elaborate classificatory mechanism that would then assign to them their destiny. The collected objects were then taken to a workshop based in an area within this neighbourhood known for its electrical and electronic scrap processing operations. Work on the central frame began first. Once the frame was complete and the bare-bones merry-go-round stepped out of the workshop and into the sunlight for the first time, it was met with excitement by children playing marbles and various other games on the street outside. Without needing invitation or direction, they found a way to mount, perch, and swivel around, even when the structure lacked seats and designated handholds. The same day, we turned the welding workshop into a play-workshop, where we invited the kids inside and let them form figures using for parts, our collection of objects-utensils, tweezers, bicycle parts and many more, objects that they were familiar with.