The Forest is full of metaphorical events, which have a universal resonance. This work can be described as an open-ended work about ‘rejuvenation’ in a period of ‘confusion’ and ‘strife’. A field of flowers reveals burnt ground underneath where a man flagellates himself in an act of atonement. Signs of burnt ground have in recent times meant ‘hidden atrocities’ as well as deforestation. The flagellant gets up and walks off changing into an animated cartoon. He appears at various points in the video: He rescues some books from a burning library*. He educates himself with books. He shows the power of knowledge by re-growing lost limbs. He pours the ‘water of knowledge’ into a hole dug by a child. From the hole, fountains rise and we see a city born underneath. Bookshelves in the forest symbolise a library of knowledge. The lion is the guardian of knowledge. The lion is driven away by the forces of destruction as the library is burnt. In the end, we see a little cub return to the emergent city.

The work was featured as part of the exhibition 'Asymmetrical Objects', curated by Tasneem Zakaria Mehta and co-curated by Himanshu Kadam. The exhibition presented the works of ten contemporary artists whose practice includes an interest in nature and science or consumption and degradation as process and product, to respond to these ideas and to explore the much-debated Age of the Anthropocene and its impact on the environment and the effects on biodiversity.


  • Title: Forest
  • Creator: Ranbir Kaleka
  • Date Created: 2009
  • Location: Special Project Space
  • Type: Video
  • Material: Single Channel HD Video projection on painted wall, 16 minutes loop with sound

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