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Reconstructing a garden with bits from here and there

Madhur Tankha

A fascinating journey from Mexico to Varanasi

NEW DELHI: Mexican artist Tatiana Musi has visually and emotionally reconstructed an old family house garden in Varanasi in her works that are being showcased at a month-long solo exhibition in Instituto Cervantes on Hanuman Road here these days.

“Mind Fills” is showcasing 16 paintings, one plant installation and another video installation of the 28-year-old artist.

Tatiana went to Varanasi on a two-month residency. “Before coming to India, I was expecting a cultural shock. Thankfully, I did not feel as if I was living in an alien country because India and Mexico share quite a few similarities. In fact, Varanasi is an ideal place for giving an artist's creative ideas to work on a theme. I soaked in the atmosphere, interacting with the local people and learnt a lot of things about Indian culture.”

Even when she was a 13-year-old school girl, Tatiana had made up her mind that she wanted to become an artist. “I have a fascination for exploring the intricate relationship between man and nature in my artistic impressions.”

Explaining that the Varanasi project developed in two phases, Tatiana says the first phase was trying to reconstruct the garden while being in Mexico, dislocated from the original experience and place. “The first phase was a difficult one as it was done through correspondence, imagination and redrawing the photograph.”

The second phase began once the artist arrived in Varanasi and was comparatively easier than the earlier one.

Tatiana created her plant installation at Kriti Gallery residency. The residency garden became a part of the artist's everyday life. She took plants from the garden to be transplanted into containers which she collected while travelling around Varanasi.

The idea

The containers are all used items either found or exchanged or bought around the city from tea stalls, food stands, vegetable stands and recycling spots. A beggar's money collecting pot has also been used. “The basic idea was to use containers used by local people in everyday's life,” she adds.

Digital video “Mind Fills: From Earth to Heaven” begins during Krishna's birthday celebration when a garden has to be created within the temple. The video followed the trajectory of the plants from the garden to the temple.

The exhibition is open up to January 7.

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