Sakshi Gupta

Dried red chillies, 180 x 90 x 300 cm approx

While in Kochi for an artist residency, Sakshi Gupta was struck by three things: during the days she saw streets replete with red chillies drying in the hot Kerala sun and the ubiquitous Chinese fishing nets in the sea, and at night she faced the ire of the mosquitoes. Using all three elements, Gupta produced a site-specific installation titled Reality Bites based on her experience there. The work, a wooden cot covered with a net that she wove using red chillies and the nylon threads used for making the fishing nets. At first encounter, the work can be seen as a humorous reaction to the severe mosquito menace in this port town. A closer examination reveals more metaphorical connotations; subverting the utilitarian aspects of objects and touching on the contradictions inherent in one's daily negotiations, the chilli-net can be seen both as a trap and a release. One is confined to the claustrophobia of the net but it also acts as a protector. At another level, the installation also resembles a nuptial bed, usually adorned with floral creations; here the chillies become menacing, unwelcoming and are a grim reminder of the realities of a marriage gone askew and turning into a trap.
- Aashti Mudnani