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Avijit Mukul Kishore's Squeeze Lime In Your Eye points at idiosyncrasies of urban life

The filmmaker screened his film at the Open Frame Film Festival 2018 and followed it up with a discussion on the works of visual artist Kaushik Mukhopadhyay.

Photo: Open Frame Film Festival 2018

Abhija Ghosh

Avijit Mukul Kishore’s film on visual artist Kaushik Mukhopadhyay premiered at Open Frame Film Festival 2018 in New Delhi. Following the artist in his workspace, home, art gallery and the university, Squeeze Lime In Your Eye effortlessly matches the quirky and irreverent spirit of the artist and his works.

Kaushik Mukhopadhyay, an acclaimed contemporary visual artist based in Mumbai, works with discarded objects and household junk, disassembling and recycling various parts and obsolete technologies to form entirely new artworks.

The film opens with Kishore and his associate director Rohan Sivakumar trying to decipher few of his pieces, leading the audience through its chaotic assembly, noise and the abstract appeal. This world evokes curiosity and confusion. We see the artist enjoying and reflecting the quirkiness of his creations.

As discarded objects and gadgets, their intricate parts and motors get reattached to new things, they seem to make a claim of being useful. The film captures two such exhibits featured as Alternative Solutions 1: A Bucket Overflow Alarm System and Alternative Solutions 2: Sheep Counter.

Adding to the firmly tongue-in-cheek quality of these seemingly utilitarian contraptions, Kishore presents these works using the mode of public service advertisements, combining visuals of these installations with old Films Division propaganda footage.

As he said during the post-screening discussion that they began with the idea of presenting these works as a telemarketing ad, but it changed to the form of public service ad, giving it an even quirkier appeal.

During the post screening question and answer session, Kishore said he was aware that there was a contrast in his language of filmmaking and the artist that he was filming. While that made for the challenge of the film, it also brought to the fore questions about documenting elements of personal memory.

In the film, the personal journey of the artist intersects with various aspects of contemporary shifts in art and architecture, especially in the sections where Mukhopadhyay’s students display their own projects.

The objects also embodied certain personal memories which are beyond exchange or market value. In their toy-like quality, they reveal deeper aspects of human life and perspective. In their abstract structure, the artist is able to weave in memories of his childhood home. Similarly, in the white cube of the art gallery, through the chaos and noise of his installations, the film is able to interestingly raise questions on the hierarchies of perception.

The title of the film, Squeeze Lime In Your Eye, borrowed from one of Mukhopadhay’s works, remains a mystery since the artist chose not to explain it. Nevertheless, one can assess that it builds on the contradictions of urban life, commodity fetishism and public art.

As the film takes us through intersections of contemporary art history and practice in India, it is made clear that a conventional biography of the artist in not achievable.

Is it a new biography of the objects then?

These reassembled objects reflect a certain kind of madness but are also fragile. Kishore uses the structures and fragility of Mukhopadhay’s works and transposes it on to the symmetry of concrete urban life.

Squeeze Lime In Your Eye builds on the disparateness and idiosyncrasies of urban life that is seeped in commodity culture, borrowing quirkiness and humor from Mukhopadhyay’s public art.

The screening and discussion was held on 18 September at the India International Centre, New Delhi, as part of the PSBT Open Frame Film Festival 2018.

Related topics

Open Frame Film Festival