G. R. Iranna. The Birth of Blindness. Fibreglass. 3’ x 4’ x 3’each. 9 pieces. 2008.
While Gandhi’s legacy of ahimsa is under threat back home, his role and relevance in our times are being explored by eight artists participating in the Indian pavilion in the current edition of the Venice Biennale. The Indian Pavilion featured works by both contemporary and modern artists like Atul Dodiya, Ashim Purkayastha, Jitish Kallat, Shakuntala Kulkarni, G. R. Iranna, Nandalal Bose, Rummana Hussain and M. F. Husain. The artworks locate Gandhi in the present context and test his political relevance against the high tide of jingoism and hate crimes. Artists have used various mediums and strategies to address this crisis by foregrounding Gandhi’s political ideology.
Iranna’s Navu (We Together), a massive installation consisting of a cluster of padukas or Indian slippers made of wood, has drawn significant attention from critics and writers. Along with his co-artists in the pavilion, Iranna has been able to create a monument of considerable relevance and impact. Navu foregrounds the power of the multitude and asks us to collectively navigate our turbulent times as agents of integrity and truth, and upholders of non-violence.