India International Centre
An exhibition of illustrations by Ankur Ahuja from Delhi
A collection of portraits of people on the streets of Delhi that engages with the idea of the new ‘normal’
The exhibition will be on view from 19th to 31st May 2020
About the exhibition
An exhibition of illustrations by Ankur Ahuja
Delhi, like everywhere else, is socialising at an arm’s distance.
New routines, new protocols, new words, old words their meanings stretched to menacing portents. Isolation, lockdown, essentials, quarantine, community, charity, empathy, even Normal is the New Normal. People watching has never been more sinister. It sounds like a close cousin of surveillance- watching them watching me. Observing people has been the fundamental bedrock of my daily practice.
These days I watch them from behind glass doors, windows, and through the CCTV camera outside my house. People walking in bubbles of suspicion and fear, sheltering behind masks, or sheer dupattas wrapped around their faces, hurrying on and hurrying back. Caught between the compulsion to stay indoors and the need to get out, playing the Tic -Tac -Toe of social distancing inside chalk circles at the grocery store - scared, suspicious faces plotting and strategising every move. Take the centre or the corner. Occupy, block and fork effectively. Stand at approximate safe distance from others.
I see an old couple wearing starched white masks once in two days going for their groceries. I see two old men, one swaddled in a large handkerchief and the other in a tight black mask that’s often embracing the chin like a long-lost lover. Their body language betrays fear and anxiety. I see young people sauntering back sweating from a run, mask in hand, exuding confidence and a certain ‘अबे कुछ नहीं होगा!’; people pulling the mask down to spit in the corner, carefully; delivery boys, scared but trudging on, one of the few jobs still available. Every once in a while, the gust of wind catches strains of Mahabharata or an aggressive News Anchor.
Everyday, we hope that things will soon go back to the way they used to be and we can step out of the house, and walk wherever the breeze takes us. Until then, to borrow a metaphor from the philosopher Simon Critchley, we will all be adrift in our ghost ships.
This exhibition is a compilation of lockdown portraits of people on the streets of Delhi with some Pre- Pandemic illustrations for reference of the old Normal.
Prints of the presented works are for sale and the artist can be contacted for price and size at email@example.com