Digital billboard images
Contemporary mediascape is rich and diverse, in which new avenues for participation have opened up due to recent technological and social transformations. These have enabled marginal subjects and smaller groups to create new public forums. But a lineage of this seemingly new landscape can be traced to the rise of color printing and to the dissemination of cassette technologies in 20th century South Asia, which resulted in diverse textual, visual, and sonic productions that have remained at variance from elite and official values.
Hikmat series pays homage to this vast urban vernacular landscape, by drawing from recycled and found imagery of calendar prints in global circulation, and emblazoned with aphorisms. When assessed according to high norms, the text is frequently in a mystifying and enigmatic relation to the image. But the trajectories by which these extraordinary juxtapositions come together are evocative of ongoing “globalization from below,” by which a European panorama becomes associated with a maxim that has undergone multiple translation in vernacular crucibles across Asia.
The word hikmat vividly evokes bodily transformation and perceptual insight: we understand these works accordingly as provocations to cognize our own uncertain habitation amidst the convolutions of the contemporary world.