Landscape and its evolution as a genre has always been a significant discourse in art history. The continuum beckons a meticulous exploration of its intrinsic tropes within the contextual frameworks of culture, society, and artistic expression. The diversity in representation across traditions stems from disparate cultural and philosophical foundations. The semantic realms of landscape vary from the Western understanding that is predominantly moulded by the tenets of enlightenment and romanticism and abounds with lush nature, symbols, and metaphors. This approach differs from their far Eastern counterparts with predilections for minimalism and emptiness. On the contrary, landscapes in contemporary art radically depart from their conventional representations, expanding their scope of engagement. They often reflect psychological, spiritual and political concerns, scrutinising the fundamental ideas of the modern world and its manifestations.
Fluctuations in political constellations since world wars led to radical shifts in the understanding of terrains and geography. The ‘otherness’ manufactured by cartographic interventions collapsed sections with inseparable cultural connections. The irreparable wounds of partition and exodus remain a recurring psyche, creating insecure spaces of existence and uncertain anxieties. The banality of it prompts for attunement across fractions devoid of culture, class and geo-political borders. The postcolonial perspectival change provokes an investigative impulse to see land as a site of debunking and cultural excavation, where it becomes a space for reclamation and resilience. The logic of data and surveillance creates an absence of representation and the presence of disparity, damaging the social contours of terrains. In an oppressed society, land is often manipulated as a tool to procure social control and power, making it a plat of exclusion and conflict. The ecological concerns arising from the alarming rate of transformation and eco-insensitive interventions pose an urgency for introspection to foresee what is yet to come. Emerging from an emancipated realm of consciousness and concern, these critical endeavours undertake an investigatory documentary impulse to delve into the lacunae of radical entanglements and submerged stories. All that is absent is hidden or obscure.
- Sayanth R S