Sahil Naik | Ground Zero: Site as Witness/Architecture as Evidence: Experimenter – Hindustan Road

25 November 2017 - 10 January 2018

Experimenter presents Ground Zero: Site as Witness/Architecture as Evidence, Sahil Naik’s first solo at the gallery. Using methods of distance and proximity, the exhibition explores Naik’s continued interest in conflicts around the world, and other state sponsored and independent terrorism. In his sculptural installations, lines between the real and the staged blur. Naik works with occurrences, from which he is twice removed, seeking correlations between myth, religion, history, facts and internet information. Using sculpture, video and installation, Naik reflects on ideas of perception, identity, the shifting nature of evidence and the retelling of conflicted history. The exhibition will preview on 25 November 2017 and will be on view until 10 January 2018.

Employing a sensitive acumen for sculpture, Naik delves into the poetics of terror, the metaphor of the bomb, the dynamics of its tangible and intangible characteristics and the landscape that these agents construct. The viewer is confronted with Lazaretto an imposing sculptural installation in the main gallery, which evokes a haunting impression of an abruptly abandoned space, referencing a post apocalyptic landscape that seems to be fraught with hazard, isolation and caution. Its architecture grows to become a tool of evidence - meticulously staged, but not far from reality. It is not clear upon first sight if this space was abandoned because of an act of terror, disease or accident, although it builds a speculative narrative. Naik seems to be interested in examining that moment where evidence, architecture, reality and rumours come together and leads the viewer to build a narrative or imagine its history.

In another section of the gallery, a sculptural installation Ground Zero: Artist as Suspect/ Bomber deals with the identification of potential ‘suspects’ based on certain indicators formed by social, political, ethnic, religious constructs and biases, of who may or may not be dubious. In Ground Zero: Artist as Suspect/Bomber, Naik creates macquettes of familiar locations (his college canteen/artist studios) and subjects them to improvised miniature explosions, thereby destroying the model he originally made. As an artist who creates and then destroys the space, he reflects on the vulnerability of our everyday and how we always imagine terror to be at a distance from us. Naik searches for the memory of this post destructed space and expresses the trauma that it may undergo and its withering remains in public memory.

The exhibition moves from a macro landscape to a microcosm of spaces. In Portraits of Home and Exit Wounds, the final series of sculptures, Naik looks at interior spaces. A storyboard of crime and memory seems to take shape. Architecture is deployed as a tool to possibly collect evidence or to understand people inhabiting them. One is not sure if these domestic settings are within the destroyed sites or if they are spaces that have been unearthed in the process of investigation.

In all of Naik’s sculptures, the absence of humans is apparent, although their traces of inhabitation are ever present and the physicality of the spaces he builds have a particular textural appeal. In Ground Zero: Site as Witness/Architecture as Evidence, Naik seems to be employing architecture and narrative simultaneously, intentionally leaving a significant margin for chance and speculation. At the same time Naik questions the importance of the site as witness; its authenticity in unravelling an occurrence and its ability to be used as evidence.

Sahil Naik (b.1991) completed his M.V.A (Sculpture) from the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University of Baroda and B.F.A with a specialization in Sculpture from Goa College of Art. Naik is the recipient of several awards including the National Students Biennale Award by the Kochi Muziris Biennale 2017; The Jury Prize, Centre of International Modern Art, CIMA Awards 2017 Kolkata and The Chinmoy Pramanick Memorial Award for Excellence 2016, Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda. Recent workshops and residencies include the Khoj International Workshop, Goa (2017), Peers Emerging Artist Residency (2017) and Peers Share (2016). Naik lives and works in Goa. This is Naik’s first solo exhibition.