Earth as Haven: Under the Canopy of Love | Jayashree Chakravarty at Musee Guimet, Paris, France

Earth as Haven: Under the Canopy of Love | Jayashree Chakravarty at Musee Guimet, Paris, France

The recent project at Musee Guimet is one of the most enterprising undertakings by Jayashree Chakravarty, responding to the specificity of the site, setting and scale, as well as to the circular plan of the rotunda. In the transformed ambience of the Carte Blanche space, one encounters a large, suspended paper structure, an imaginary form inspired by the tiny wasp-house/cocoon, but built in massive proportions, making it possible for viewers to enter into and experience her 'insect-world'. Bare from the outside, the canopy quite like caves and natural shelters, is inviting with its sensual earthiness and dark layered interior, which unfolds hidden mysteries on a closer look. The delicate ribbed armature of this form echoes the shape of shanties scattered over the city of Kolkata, and also brings to mind the slender ribbed-vaults of Gothic architecture. Hanging above the ground, it appears like a slow crawling form, with the partly visible feet of visitors conceived as an inherent part of the insect-form. The seventeen large soaring paper scrolls displayed around as a continuous curtain, transform the space of the rotunda, creating an immersive environment for a deeper engagement.

Earth as Haven rhymes with and alludes to heaven, and perhaps to a utopian desire, but the artist here is more significantly immersed in retrieving the earth as a place of refuge and shelter for all visible and invisible forms of life that inhabit its soil, air, water and sunlight and enjoy its fecundity. Referring to the interiority of wombs, cocoons and nests, it is unadorned from the outside while the inside unfolds a world inhabited by tiny 'insect-forms' like beetles, flies, ants and glow-worms that sparkle and illuminate the dark core of the earth. A play of camouflage, quite like in nature offers sudden moments of surprise and discovery, often challenging the naked eye, demanding a microscopic investigation. The aroma of the earth, the palpable sensuousness of the surface, the sense of silence, the radiance of the sparkling insects-bodies, all add to the strange beauty of this make-believe haven.

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