Review: Barricadia

Article first published in Issue 133.

Mumbai-based artist Sahej Rahal is not shy about broadcasting the resounding theme of the installation now on display at Glasgow’s CCA. Barricadia displays a harrowing view of the future: inspired by contemporary concerns, it echoes current events and predicts the destruction that man, machine, and nature will endure in arms. At its core lie the multiple sources of inspiration, including mythological predictions, locally sourced fantasy and legend, liminal sites, rituals and urbanist science fiction. In documenting the ruins of a fictionally excavated Barricadia, Rahal unveils a desolate blueprint of what will be left standing in the aftermath of environmental and social destruction. The impression is at once absurdist but also hits farcically close to home.

The installation comprises three rooms and carries a berth of media. The exhibition houses countless clay pieces arranged haphazardly across multiple cloth-laden tables, enveloping two television monitors that flicker video footage out of sync. The second room hosts a cluster of sculptures that combine natural and unnatural elements alike; the sculptures are fenced in by enormous eldritch parallel projections rotating clips. These clips include impressive views of the Kompira II shrouded in fog, a forest lurching on a cliffside and spanning out to a polluted beach. The impressions never cease to impress: canvasses adorn the walls, figures never fully unmasked are planted in aggressive stances, discarded survivors are scattered throughout, dark charcoal strokes stitch the images together are loose, deliberate, and passionate. The colours conjured (mostly dark hues with splashes of brilliant red in the center) add to the illusion of scale, and the presence of music disjoints the leading narrative with the phantom sounds of monstrous machinery and barren land.

Rahal will also host a reading and discussion event and screening of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker at the CCA in October. This will be an elaboration on what is already a heavily narrative-based exposition on post-apocalyptic landscapes and the distressed fusions of material and man himself.

[Natasha Baldassare]

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