The Mahatma’s walk from Goa to the world
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi has influenced many artists, but Dr Subodh Kerkar has gone miles ahead with ‘Reclaiming Gandhi’, an evolving exhibition which will be travelling all over India and abroad. Café speaks to Dr Subodh, to find out what will be featured in this massive exhibition, including a 3D Gandhi on peoples’ phones
When Dr Subodh Kerkar creates a piece of work, there is a deeper meaning to it, which evokes different emotions. His new exhibition is awe inspiring and will be span generations, continents and various artists. The key hero in the ‘Reclaiming Gandhi’ exhibition is none other than Mahatma Gandhi.
The first memory Dr Subodh has of Mahatma Gandhi was as a six year old, when his father, Chandrakant Kerkar was commissioned 20 portraits of national leaders for the old Secretariat building. His father called him and the children of the locality, and asked them to join their hands in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait. During his student activist days in college, he along with Adv Satish Sonak, placed a painting of Mahatma Gandhi with his eyes closed with a black cloth in front of the Goa Assembly. “I have been going around the country for the past six months documenting, Gandhi created by different artists. Mahatma Gandhi took up different issues and if he was alive now, what issue would he take up? Then I thought of the act of littering, which is an act of violence. I worked with 3000 students on a project called ‘Carpet of Joy’, for which 1,50,000 plastic bottles were collected. The bottom of the bottles were cut and painted in different colours, in the shape of flowers. The artwork took up 2000 square meters in the village of Saligao, and almost 2000 people came to see it every day. Because of this project, every home in Goa knows me now,” says Dr Subodh. After the monsoons, he plans to create an installation called ‘Head of Gandhi’, which will be 20 meters tall, using plastic bottles which will be dismantle-able and taken to different parts of the country. In Champaram, he will be creating a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Indigo blue. “Mahatma Gandhi belongs to the world, and he believed that freedom is indivisible, and the oneness of the soul,” he says. Subodh’s exhibition ‘Reclaiming Gandhi’ is an evolving exhibition which will be formally inaugurated on October 2, 2017 at Museum of Goa. “In collaboration with our digital partner, Dmytro Dokunov, an Ukrainian computer engineer and co-founder at PO –Pixelated Realities, I have made an app which can be downloaded from October 2 onwards. With the app, you could point your phone to any currency in the world and there appears a 3D Gandhi on your phone. The visual will be accompanied with a quotation of Gandhi in the language of the currency note.” Currently in Delhi, Subodh is still learning more about Mahatma Gandhi and is constantly searching for new information on the Father of the Nation. “I recently visited the Brazilian Embassy to speak to them about collaboration with Brazilian artists in Goa, and to have the Reclaiming Gandhi exhibition at Sao Paulo. They were very welcoming. I also visited the British Consul to discuss the same. This is more of a pilgrimage for Gandhi,” says Subodh. He further adds, “I recently visited the National Gandhi Museum and I am overwhelmed to see the Electric Cardiogram of Mahatma Gandhi. I was accompanied by Dmytro, who informed me that through the cardiogram, we can re-create the sound of Gandhi’s heart. I also found his medical reports in the museum, including his blood tests. Through this project, I have come across fascinating stories which are hardly known.” The first exhibition will be held at Museum of Goa, in Pilerne and Subodh feels very proud to be a Goan who will bring Gandhi to Goa for the first time. “When Mahatma Gandhi was alive, he didn’t come to Goa, as it was a Portuguese colony. He met with Portuguese officials outside the state but never set foot in Goa. Through Reclaiming Gandhi, he will be visiting Goa with the collection and memories,” says Subodh with a twinkle in his eye. The project is not just one exhibition, but a series of exhibitions with documentaries, poetries, sculptures, theatres, videos and performances. Subodh has also partnered with Banglanatak dot com, who will be contributing with over 100 tribal artists, musicians, dancers and theatre performances focused on Mahatma. “I also met an interesting filmmaker who is based in Mumbai, Chennai and Los Angeles - Bharat Bala. He has videos of world personalities like the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Yasser Arafat and Barack Obama talking about Mahatma Gandhi,” he adds. Bharat Bala is the director of the short film, ‘Hari Om’. Though Subodh has plans to visit and exhibit ‘Reclaiming Gandhi’ in every city that Gandhi visited, it is an endeavour that will require a lot of financial support. “From October 2, 2017, we will be starting with the package exhibition, which will include a box of artworks that can be displayed anywhere. I can send this entire exhibition via email to a museum and they can just print and show it anywhere in the world. This is a global exhibition and I am hoping to have a talk with Google and Apple about the same. I wouldn’t say that it is the biggest project because Gandhi was a humble man, and words like grandest and largest were not in his vocabulary,” says Subodh with a smile. To conclude, Subodh was posed the question, if ever he came face to face with Mahatma Gandhi, what would he do? “I would hug him and tell him, please don’t go back,” says Subodh, who feels that we need the Mahatma now more than ever.
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