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Finding meaning in chaos

With the city constantly on the move, Delhi is a melee of different sights and sounds. A happy Bollywood tune drifting through the air while a group of half-naked homeless children sit helplessly along the sidewalk.

Story: CHR | ST | 01st March 2017, 06:18 Hrs

 A flock of pigeons cooing can be heard up above while a rusty pole of a structure lies in a shabby mess on the side of the road. Combine that with the teeming people of different castes and creeds going about their different tasks and one can get the feel of the complete disorder and utter chaos of the place. And it is this chaos that finds a place in artist Annabel C Schenck’s latest book ‘Ville poussière and her art exhibition A Tribute To Chaos.   
“The book is a collaboration between a writer and an artist. A friend of mine Christine Guidon who lived in Delhi for a few years had worked on a volume of poems about the chaos she felt in the city. On reading this text I could identify with these feelings and what she was trying to convey and this inspired me to do an art book to accompany these poems,” says Schenck, who also lived in Delhi for a few years. A visual artist of art books, prints from etchings and large-scale engravings, paintings and installations, Schenck has exhibited widely across India and Europe and presently resides between India and France.   
As Guidon wrote down her thoughts about the ‘capital city of crushed dust castrated into castes’ from the balcony of her house, Schenck, who began working on this a year ago, decided to work on her art works from the terrace of her studio with the rooftop of houses forming a major element in her work. “While in Paris there is a lot more unity in the architecture, here the roofs themselves are chaotic. There are different shapes to it and then sometimes there is a pipe here and a tank there,” she states. Schenck thus tried to show how this complexity of structures were similar to what the inhabitants of the city experience in their daily lives. “I have used layering in my prints to help convey the idea of the different layers in society. In fact the main images of the book itself has 25 layers in all which stands for the different classes of society, the various cultures, different standings in society, the education, religions, differences between men and women etc,” she explains, adding that she has tried to draw the dust in her works too, which she admits is a difficult process.   
Elaborating further on this chaotic feeling in the city, Schenck feels that being indoors is like a shelter. “In France whether you are inside the house or outside, it is the same. But here the moment you step out you are confronted with so much noise, pollution and violence that all you want to do is go home, which is your shelter from it all,” she says, adding that it isn’t just foreigners who feel this way about Delhi. “I have spoken to many Indians too who also feel this way. However not everybody gets it or sees it that way. For some it is just their way of life. It is all about your individual perception.” She further adds that she doesn’t feel the same here in Goa, which she terms as being more harmonious.   
Her art exhibition ‘A Tribute to Chaos’ which will also open on the day of her book launch is a continuation of the same theme. “While the book deals more with the chaos of society, the art exhibition focuses more on the chaos in the natural landscape,” she says, adding that she has been inspired a lot by the movement of the sea in this respect. The art works depict rough waves clashing against vast mountain peaks, threatening to wash away the mighty ecology of the already heavily eroded palpable old highlands. The art exhibition has been curated by Katharina Domscheit-D’souza.   
Following this, Schenck also plans to hold an exhibition of her next series of print works in late March at Ray’s Atelier in Colva in collaboration with Alliance Française and PEPPINA art. The opening will be held in conjunction with Francophonie Week and will see Goan band Banjara Quartet perform as well.  

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