Susanta Mandal b. 1965, Kolkata, India
Steel, jute sacks, links, one 25 rpm motor, five 5 rpm motors, light fixtures
36 inches x 12 feet x 20 feet (91.4 x 365.8 x 609.6 cm)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Purchased with funds contributed by the Young Collectors Council, 2008
2007-08 Susanta Mandal
Susanta Mandal focuses our attention on quotidian materials and events, inviting viewers to witness and confront raw reality in interactive environments. His mixed media installations, which often utilize spotlights and kinetic mechanisms seem playful, but are actually uncanny, fearful, and ultimately disconcerting constructions. Mandal enhances each installation by balancing theatrical lights with deep shadows. Through chiaroscuro, the works take on narrative and performative elements, echoing the tradition of vernacular storytelling in India, where painted scrolls are brought to life with lamps at dusk. In Caged Sacks, nine steel cages are aligned to imitate prisoners' cells. Six contain jute gunnysacks used to transport sugar throughout the Indian subcontinent. By replacing the sugar with timed motors, the artist transforms these objects into writhing, potentially dangerous bodies (animal or human), which are kept at a remove behind steel bars, and succinctly conveys his deep sociopolitical concerns.