We are the Aliens We are Looking for
a Sizzle Lyk Dat Studio event curated by Tasneem Lohani
We are the Aliens we are Looking for brings together works around ideas of aliens as a metaphor for the strange, weird, different and the 'other'. Thinking about alienation as an act of othering certain groups of people for being different from us. For being atypical, for not fitting perceived norms. And looking inwards to find and ponder over the little aliens inside of us. That makes us uniquely human, that can remind us to ‘dasein’, just exist, together.
We Are The Aliens We’re Looking For showcases young and emerging artists with wide-ranging perspectives and interpretations of the ‘alien’, the ‘other’ and the 'strange'. Nihaal Faizal’s work in the show is a silent film featuring versions of a particular stock video of four girls dressed in a Christmas-themed bikini, pointing at a green screen. It makes one wonder about the surreal nature of digital media on the internet. While also bringing to mind the ubiquitous nature of advertising and the commodification of everything online. Kinjal Shah's playful sculptures on the other hand grapple with our obsessive reliance on technology through her take on our dependence on plug points. In her ceramic stoneware pieces, she tests the human urge to constantly plug our communication devices into sockets of electrical power.
In Singaporean artist George Wong’s short video, a little boy dressed as a police officer relays the rules of the game ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’. He then plays the game with someone who doesn’t seem to understand or know the rules of the game. A metaphor for the rules of 'the system' set by figures of authority that George questions and finds incomprehensible.
While Ohida Khandakar’s haunting work is a film trying to capture the inner lives of orthodox Indian village women. Their mysterious and overlooked realm of living and working often dictated by patriarchal rules. Where some of them hope to be liberated by their work and earnings. And they conjure up whole possible imagined worlds. But work life in the urban context is complicated in many different ways. Aarti Sunder’s video focuses on what it means to 'work' in today's urban techno-capitalist context. Confronting us with our obsession with being productive, functional, working harder, faster, and better. The work draws from a chance encounter with anxiety-ridden fish and conversations with people and focuses on modern life's perpetual exhaustion and fatigue that possibly turn us into a forced new version of anxious humans.
Iranian artist Sinai's film is an introspective story in fragments told through images, video and Persian poetry. It dives into the psyche of the protagonist, who seems to be in a lucid dream-like state. Presenting to us a slice of his complex mind. Similarly, Tasneem's series of drawings on paper explore our wavering mental health in the context of today's global, techno-capitalist and alienated living. This particular series explores acceptance and confrontation of one's own inner realities, strangeness or alien-ness. Bringing forth abstract conversations through introspection and the very physical act of drawing.
#UNFAIR, created by Wenceslaus Mendes, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Mohit Bhalla and Anoushka Mathews, takes us through stories of alienation quite literally through extreme cases of racism. We engage in dialogue with the “African” diaspora here in India to understand what constructs prejudice, discrimination and othering. In the sound piece, Whisper, artist Ava Halloran draws on the term ‘alien’, which is used here to refer to the illegal immigrants coming into Europe via the Mediterranean sea. The sounds are inspired by the Mediterranean sea close to Marseilles, where the artist currently lives, and thinks through the tragedies of migrant ships sinking in the sea while trying to escape Africa. The othering and alienation of these people and their resulting deaths in the Sea.
And finally, Anand’s Zoo #2 takes us through a delightfully original anthology of short comic sketches straight from the whimsical mind of an artist who makes profound but simple observations from our strange everyday.
Together this mix of international contemporary artists working in various parts of the world offers a slice of their life and what they find alien in it. Thanks to the internet and the global world, we have access to these multiple contexts. That allows us to co-exist and empathise with the inherently human follies situated in these myriad different contexts.
Text by Sahana Srikanth and Tasneem Lohani
Aarti Sunder works with moving image, writing, and drawing. Her interest lies within technology and our relationship with it, focusing on the study of digital infrastructure. So far she has focused on contemporary labor practices, fictional edges of protest, myth, and digital-terrestrial play.
We Owe Each Other Everything, Video, 16m2s
The film considers what it means to work harder, better, faster; the obsession to be functional. If capacity to adjust is finite, how can we deal with this excess noise? The work draws from a chance encounter with anxiety-ridden fish and conversations with people, where suspended exhaustion ensures repetitive inertia, where the fatigued are already artificial.
Anand is a cartoonist and visual artist based in Delhi. His practice primarily involves comics and self publishing.
Zoo #2, 2021, Comic Book, 52 pgs
Zoo #2 is the second issue of Anand's ongoing One person comic anthology, Zoo. The anthology is an attempt at fully exploring the medium of comics, to experiment and analyze what sort of impact can be created with the form. The stories usually deal with characters in unfortunate events, which are often absurd, but rooted in their everyday lives.
George Wong Yung Choon
GEORGE WONG YUNG CHOON (b. 1978) is a Singaporean visual artist inspired by his daily encounters and is intrigued by the absurd possible outcomes from overthinking. He is currently looking at topics such as the Singapore “kampong” spirit and the Singaporean education system. He completed his MA in Contemporary Art Practice (Critical Practice) from the Royal College of Art in 2019.
Scissors Paper Stone, 2019, Moving Image, 55s
I have lived for XYZ years on Earth. Yet I can never fully comprehend the systems, and question our deference to the rules.
Kinjal Shah, born in Kolkata, India in 1999 and has been brought up in Bengaluru where she completed her Bachelors in fine arts from College of Fine Arts, Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, specializing in Ceramics alongside screen printing, graphic printmaking, painting and terracotta sculpting. Apart from major ceramic practices, she experiments the ceramic process with various methods,media, form and textures. Her compositions in ceramic sculpture, design and industrial products are based on understanding traditional and non-traditional techniques.
The artist has been selected for workshops by Kala-Sakshi Memorial Trust in 2022; Online International student exchange workshop by the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw, Poland in 2021-22; Ceramic installations by Ramya E M in 2021-2022; Luster glaze workshop by Swapan Kumar Jana and Anju Paliwal in 2020. She has also participated in exhibitions of Karnataka Shilpakala Academyin 2021; Tactile traces of tangent thought at Venkatappa Art Gallery, Bengaluru in 2021.
Switch the Board, 2022, Ceramic Stoneware
Switchboards seem to keep our lives moving. But what is the use of a switchboard without electricity?
Besides not being able to charge anything, are we aware of our dependence on electricity?
How would we respond if something went wrong that is bigger than just a power cut?
Sitting by the window, looking at the rain pour and waiting for the power to come.
Would we know how to react? How would we process it?
Nihaal Faizal is an artist based in Bangalore, India. His works respond to the copy, the replica, the remake, the gadget, and the gimmick, often reflecting upon media documents from popular and cultural memory. In 2018, he founded the publishing house and curatorial practice Reliable Copy.
four sexy girls hold a green screen at the beach, 2014, Video Loop, 2m16s
'four sexy girls hold a green screen at the beach' brings together 10 watermarked stock video samples from different stock image websites of the very same footage featuring four women, in Christmas hats, at a beach, holding and pointing to a green screen. Within the presentation, the video clips change in dimensions according to the variations in sample video resolution as offered by the various stock image websites from which these clips were sourced. This video is silent and plays as an indefinite loop.
Khandakar Ohida (1993) is a visual artist and filmmaker currently living in Kolkata. She has completed her BFA from Govt. College of Art and Craft, Calcutta (2016) and MFA from Faculty of Fine Arts, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, (2018). Her areas of interest lie in moving images, drawings, paintings, and animations whose source of influence includes conscious notions of different encountered thoughts from her vicinity like Personal memory, marginalized voice, collective trauma, and also nonlinear stories interacting with various cultural layers of society. Her film has been showcased as a part of the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Germany, 2022 “Serendipity Art Festival, Goa 2019. She has also featured her works at The Festival of Video Art by Indian Contemporary Artists (VAICA) at Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Delhi and Goethe -Institute/ Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai, Museum of Goa 2019-2020, ‘Ahang’ a travel exhibition in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi (2019), Students Biennale (part of KMB)2016, Next step art residency, 1shantiroad, Bangalore, 2019 amongst others.
The last dream I saw, 2021, Video
This work questions the freedom of women’s dreams and desires and the subtle layer between culture and gender. The impression of this work focuses on the socio-cultural impact of women's feelings toward Memories, happiness, and sorrow. It represents gender discrimination in the Indian diaspora as most Indian women go through equal trauma. The story leaves an impact of a collective protest for their fundamental rights within the community.
Sinai Noor is a multidisciplinary artist, experienced in photography, filmmaking, documentary, producing, writing, editing, storytelling and theatre. Sinai was taught Persian poetry from an early age, which inspired his interest in spirituality and philosophy. In his younger years he studied the fields of creative writing and theatre and he holds an MA of Arts degree in filmmaking from London.
Conference of the Trees , 2020, Film and Photography, 12m32s
Conference of the Trees is a poetic and experimental short film. It tells the story of a young photographer, and how he sees the world - both through still and moving images - by connecting him to two Persian poems, The Conference of the Birds by Hz Attar and the Leafless Orchard by Mehdi Akhavan Sales.
Tasneem Lohani is an Indian artist and art educator working across sound, video, performance and drawing on paper. Her practice explores alienation and disembodiment in our age of digital communication through the lens of tech and surveillance capitalism in India today. Thinking through its material impact on health and ecology while finding a path towards healing and recourse aided by Yoga and meditation. She holds an MFA from Kingston School of Art, London and held her first solo show at the Cholamandal Artists' Village in 2018. Since then she has shown her work as part of numerable group shows internationally in the UK and in India. Most recently she participated in the India Art Fair Parallel exhibition, Immerse in Mumbai.
We Are The Aliens, 2022, Drawing Series, sizes variable
This new series of drawings on paper explore acceptance through confrontation of our own stangeness or alien-ness. Laying bare our wavering mental health in the context of today's global, hybrid, digital, techno-capitalist and alienated living. She arrives at these works through deep introspection aided by her Yoga and meditation practise. Bringing forth abstract conversations through the very physical act of mark making and drawing.
AVA is the alias of Marseille-based artist Ava Halloran. Her live performances, sonic collages, and fantasy maps explore how the ephemeral nature of the (in)audible can be used to address tangled questions of place, belonging and perception. Born in the Arizona desert where she spent her childhood, but later moving to the European metropol, her work draws on this experience of flitting boundaries and cross-spatial wiring. Playfully collapsing and reimagining static ideas of language and perception into soundscapes and sonic cartographies, her art is a process of connection and revitalization.
whisper, 2022, Sound, 8m1s
Dream drifting into the blue, the sea connects through its infinite waves.
Endless flux and hypnotic patterns flow into the horizons.
Arrivals and departures - reflectors of the alienus - are the Mediterranean pulse of dreams and nightmares.
Body of blue, symbol of metamorphosis, sink into all hearts as ONE
Haunted and held by the water whispers
Wenceslaus Mendes, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Mohit Bhalla & Anoushka Mathews
Wenceslaus Mendes is a film-maker: cinematographer, editor by profession; practicing and working with multimedia and mediums.
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta’s work experience, spanning over 40 years, cuts across different media: print, radio, television and documentary cinema.
Mohit Bhalla is a journalist with ‘The Economic Times’ and specializes in covering financial crime and corporate fraud cases.
Anoushka Mathews is a video producer and her training is in script writing from the Film and Television Institute, Pune.
#UNFAIR, HD (2019), 52 minutes, English (with subtitles in English)
Indian society conflates different forms of prejudices and discriminations relating to skin, colour, race, caste and class, and their interrelationship with each other. Consequently, frequent acts and events of individual and collective violence against the ‘other’, across the country, lead to public humiliation, shame and torture. We seek to bring under the lens – ‘blackness’ in ‘brown’ spaces.
Through this film we engage in dialogue with the “African” diaspora here in India, as well as diverse individuals from various backgrounds, to understand what constructs - the images, thoughts and ideas; one associates with the concerns of prejudice and discrimination.