ONLINE | MAY 2021

Shanthamani M: Past Continuous

What does it seem, at first glance? Is it images of the old and the new in Bangalore city sometimes merging, at other times colliding? Past Continuous looks at the geography of the city from the early 2000s, through its fissures and junctions. And yet, if we look further, we see layers of connections and questions that we ask using Shanthamani’s personal experiences and our interpretations, questions of what is the past? And, how has the past continued into the present despite disruptions experienced by the city? We examine people within demographics/spaces, machines, streets, mundane objects, murals, deep lakes and tall trees, abandoned. We ask if the artist is showing us how the city has developed over the years. The exhibition looks at the practice of Bangalore-based artist Shanthamani M. and dissects the single image photomontage, through an undoing of her work and simultaneously through an exploration of the city and its history.

Shanthamani M’s work visualises a moment in time, of artists coming together and documenting their surroundings, the people who inhabit neighborhoods, vanishing skill sets, nature, and the metropolis everchanging. In a way, the work also encourages artists and photographers to work locally at a time when travelling is limited and might be for a long time.

We notice how movement, energy, religion, commerce, culture, technology, ecology and production co-exist in Shanthamani’s works. This co-existence sometimes presents a certain tension but also comfort in layered commonalities of familiar places. They appear in the form of pockets of old architecture in Malleshwaram, in the form of statues of Lal Bagh, gardens and lakes, electrical shops across Commercial Street and shrines near Koramangala.

In the end, it is perhaps this co-existence of sorts that describes the idea of the local. Are we able to coexist in a city that grows and constantly shifts, in which the native and the colonial, the old and the new seem to be wrestling with each other?

What most Indian megacities have in common, is that past, present and future often collide and create ruptures. As the past continues, Bangalore often leaps fast forward. Shanthamani M’s photomontages explore the gaps and ruptures created through these leaps.

To go through the exhibition will take you 15 minutes. Every image in this exhibition contains alt text as an accessibility feature.

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