During the critique Leigh Clarke mentioned focusing on one object to represent the city. What I had focused on however was the skyline itself, and how the city looks in the day versus the night. My aim was to use day and night to represent the bipolarity of Mumbai and the resulting conflict and violence. However his comment struck a chord with me, and I came up with the concept "Beedi Leaf."
The beedi reminds me of college and therefore my past. At the same time it is considered the poor man's cigarette in India. It doesn't have filters and is made of a cheap and strong tobacco mixture wrapped in the tendu leaf. I brought about 4 packs of beedi's back with me on my last trip to India to share with my international friends who had never seen it. It's also a great conversation starter. A pack still remained and I decided to apply a similar concept of projection versus real object to the beedi.
The photograph above show several beedi's arranged into a basic leaf shape, with a tendu leaf projected on top. At the time of this work I was reading Short History of the Shadow by Victor I. Stoichita and was fascinated with the concept of the presence of shadow proving that a thing was real; and the mirror being the mimesis of the object, in the same way that Renaissance painters made a likeness of a person through portrait painting. In one way I wanted to take something that represents death and mass consumerism and bring it back to its original form. In the case of the beedi it is a leaf since the beedi is made purely of tobacco and the rolled tendu leaf. No glue is used either, only a thin thread to tie the beedi in the end. To completely bring it back to "life," I plan to create an installation where the beedi leaf throws a leaf shadow, thereby proving that it is a "real" leaf. Although this remains an artifice, the contradiction and conflict within the concept resonates with the kind of city I want to express in my other work.
Reference Stoichita,V (1997). A Short History of the Shadow. London: Reaktion Books Ltd.
Turner,C and Stoichita,V (2007). A Short History of the Shadow: Interview with Victor I. Stoichita. Cabinet Magazine Issue 24 [online] Available from http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/24/stoichita.php [Accessed 27th April 2011].