Inspired by a trove of love letters written by his mother in the 1950s as an adolescent girl in Israel, Ghiora Aharoni explores universal notions of desire, ritual and courtship in the exhibition Missives. The letters – which are incorporated into collages, melded with vintage phulkaris, or juxtaposed with vintage snapshots and letters collected by the artist in India – fashion a narrative cycle encompassing history, symbolism and imagination. Aharoni's relationship with India and his deep engagement with Indian craft traditions and craftsmen become both the instrument and the foil through which he essays this narrative of longing.
By digitally printing over-scaled reproductions of the letters on fragile Japanese paper, Aharoni transforms them into precious objects, amplifications of earnest, adolescent yearnings. The artist crumples the letters, preserving random threads of phrases and their emotion. The precious paper with incomplete text becomes a tactile yet ephemeral metaphor for concealed feelings. In a two-part installation that begins in the Industrial Arts Gallery within the Museum and continues in the Kamalnayan Bajaj Special Exhibition Galleries, Aharoni combines the crumpled letters with vintage photographs from India, connecting his mother’s sentiments to a universal and elusive landscape of experience and memory.
Snippets of the letters are also embroidered on phulkaris and integrated with drawings of symbols, architecture and images of daily life observed by Aharoni during his travels in India. In his drawings embroidered on the phulkaris – which are often given to a bride at the time of her marriage – Aharoni is interested in imagery that has the potential to signify emotions: anticipation, love, memory, home, spirituality and the passage of time – all of which eluded his mother and the object of her desire.
Integrating these embroidered drawings with the phulkaris’ precise geometric compositions creates a visual language that traverses time, geography, cultures and Aharoni’s own family history. Individually, these dialogues represent fragments of retroactive, yet unsentimental, memories. Collectively, they embody the experiences – from the quotidian to the sublime – that occur at the intersection of travel and memory.
Free, open to all tours of the exhibition in English, Hindi and Marathi were conducted by the Museum’s curatorial team every Saturday and Sunday from September 14 – November 30, 2013.
The workshop encouraged participants to delve into the artworks and decipher the messages embedded within. Participants then explored multiple ways of communicating through code and experimented with creating secret, coded messages! These messages were then sent to their friends using personalized postcards.
This workshop was offered to schools, for students aged 8 and above, on request throughout the duration of the exhibition.