Tejal Shah

14 May - 08 Jun 2013

Between The Waves
14 May - 8 June 2013

Transmission Gallery is delighted to present the first solo exhibition and artist talk in the UK by Goa-based artist Tejal Shah. Working across diverse media such as video, photography, performance, sound, installation, and drawing, Shah positions her work within a feminist and queer framework. She is currently interested in the intersections of art, ecology and healing in relation to consciousness. Her works also focus on topics of sex, sexuality, body, gender and natureculture while challenging normative social hegemonies.
Between the Waves is the title of Tejal's project, which will be exhibited at Transmission during May 2013. Vivid and lush, this 5-channel video installation was first presented at dOCUMENTA (13). Shah creates sensual, poetic, heterotopic landscapes within which she places subjects that inhabit personal/political metaphors – embodiments of the queer, eco-sexual, inter-special, technological, spiritual and scientific. Their activities feel archaic and futuristic at the same time, primitive but filled with urgency and agency. How did they arrive in these immersive environments, which surround them and also us? Both seductive and visceral, they could be spaces of refuge or expulsion.
Multiple historic and mythological references are layered, woven and problematised. That which is perhaps most obvious is the reference to Rebecca Horn's Einhorn, which in turn references Frida Kahlo. Horn has described the subject in Einhorn (Unicorn) as “very bourgeois”, the (female) creature walks elegantly, more like a mythical creature than an animal, naked but asexual. Shah’s subjects, however, are neither bourgeois or asexual. They are base and unselfconscious, embodying a ritualistic and intuitive exploration, unapologetically seeking closeness.
In another channel we see alphabets spelled out to us, one at a time, a dactylic sensory assault. These letters form poems that were commissioned for the project. Our grasp of the text though depends on our cognition, we gain impressions and words in an endless verbal eclipse. When we learn that the formal presentation is generated by ripping an iPhone Morse code app, once again references are displaced.
Shah’s work becomes practically and publicly political through its situated context and her subject position(s). The making and dissemination of radical works such as Between the Waves is a real challenge for artists in India where freedom of speech and creative expression all too often face serious censorship from state and non-state actors. Actions of love, sensuality or sexuality being performed by her subjects can be read as assertively political – articulating the right of a subjectivity beyond the scripted gender binary enforced through various expressions of social as well as state repressions in contemporary democracies. Towards understandings of new configurations and embodiments of knowledge?.
At a talk at the CCA Cinema on Saturday 4th May at 3pm, Tejal will speak about this expanded phase of the Between the Waves project, which delves further into theories of queer ecology and geography, as well as discussing her practice in relation to it’s political and aestheic implications, and sharing her current obsessions and inspirations. We hope you can make it along.
Between the Waves courtesy the artist, Barbara Gross Galerie (Munich) and Project 88 (Mumbai)

the human dreams of being 1 w/the divine. the animal
dreams only of itself, dense wet ∞
transactions of matter. the machine 0-1-0-1 right-
click aspires to godhood {save save} but deepcode yearns


grow me a dewlap & ctenoid scales,
photosynthetic neurons, cilia
by which to feed. make me over
into multispecial interstitial freak

coasting the ribonucleic highways
doubling, coupling past despair.
I wish you’d known me when I was amoebic,
autotrophic, before I learned to split

my body into mirror-image loss, two
halves always pining for the One
great merge, single-cell ancestor,
primum movens / purnam1 who is perfection

Theory/Animalia poem by Minal Hajratwala, commissioned for Between the Waves

1 Purnam is a Sanskrit word that means perfection, wholeness and fullness

Tags: Rebecca Horn, Frida Kahlo, Tejal Shah