Experimenting with different media and archival materials, Arjun Panayal’s practice encounters the often imperceptible changes that occur around us, while confronting the ethical, political and affective dimensions of human interactions with the environment. His work engages with a set of dilemmas about representation, displacement and dwelling, not by using the form of a metahistorical narratives, but by unraveling the limits of image-making. In doing so, I also employ different methods of immersive and creative acts, nurturing an embodied form of self-reflectivity.
He grew up in a farmer family of Northern Kerala (Kasaragod), where the sea and the hills meet. This multi-lingual town with a diverse local ecology is a confluence of languages and cultures. The experience of living in this town influenced his changing relationship with different types of dwellings unique to this locality, especially the graded cultural ethos often creating an imperceptible change in everyday lives. At the beginning of his artistic journey, he crossed the rural-urban corridor and reached the city of Trivandrum to earn my Bachelor’s degree. From its conventional milieu of academia, he moved to New Delhi for his higher studies, where he deliberately shifted his art praxis into more experimental forms, as the city introduced him to a completely different socio-cultural arrangement. The journey helped him understand the shared and interdependent realms of knowledge-creation; where art and life merge with one another, providing a conceptual axis to his practice.
His ongoing project, Cybernetic Rituals; Land Narratives, is an immersive physical and virtual-explorations attempt to examine the complexities of Northern Kerala’s laterite landscape through a prism of the ‘presence’ and ‘absences’ of its ‘marginal existence’. It includes an engagement with both human and non-human contexts and the performative, interactive and affective intensities they inhabit through the logic of cybernetic mechanism.