Vasco da Gama Square

Kochi-Muziris Biennale

Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014

Balancing Act \ Gulammohammed Sheikh
Gulammohammed Sheikh's 'Balancing Act' (2014) is a public sculptural installation inspired by an 18th century Jaipur School miniature painting depicting acrobats on a tightrope performing before a ruler and his court.
The painting depicts the king and courtiers at what seems to be a moment of crisis; with a seemingly resigned king facing a dictating diwan on a balcony in the centre as noblemen on either side drag away two young princes. As Sheikh points out, the time of this painting’s creation coincided with British takeover of Rajput kingdoms including Jaipur. The acrobats depicted in the miniature in various tricky positions can thus be read as allegories for the precariousness of the kingdom’s political situation.

Balancing Act \ 2014 \ Fibre glass with acrylic paint and Melayne varnish, metal poles, ropes, wires etc.

In his sculptural translation of these acrobats, the artist has modified their facial features to resemble current political figures, thus conflating political intrigues of the present with a similarly turbulent period in the past. In doing so, he also points to art’s enduring entanglement with politics, as a site to critically reflect on the present.
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