In Susanta Mandal’s kinetic installations, everyday objects are transformed into spectres of the uncanny. Sacks–2 (2006) by Mandal is an installation made of a stack of gunny sacks that move as if by the presence of writhing bodies within them. The unexpected kinetic element renders what is a ubiquitous symbol of commerce in port cities such as Kochi—gunny sacks filled with tea, spices or sugar—into a representation of mortal danger, of events of unknown, unspeakable brutality. They bring to mind a range of stories and images of violence– from farmer suicides and custodial killings to tales of anonymous bodies found dumped in the cover of night.
Sacks–2 is a part of a series of work by Mandal that involve similar elements. One of these is Caged Sacks(2007-08), an installation where he enclosed several moving sacks within corrugated iron cages. The eeriness of these works is enhanced by the artist’s use of chiaroscuro. According to Mandal, light and shadows play a critical role in his work as symbols of various abstract fears of the mind.