by Patrick Ogle
“The mudwork, I have pushed that. I find it is totally mine. I have created a new medium.” she says.
The mud is wet and the people are covered in it and are a part of the piece. There is also a “fourth dimension” aspect to this work. Dutta says that the clay is wet throughout the shooting of the video and since wet clay becomes dry clay; actors have to perform in a short period of time.
But pieces like this are, in the real world, finite. You can shoot video and that is a second aspect of such an installation but it isn’t the same as the actual, physical piece. And, speaking practically, the clay videos are on such a large scale, a massive scale, who is going to buy a static piece like that?
The next step was making something permanent using the concept but mud cannot be permanent. So Dutta moved to making sculptures that have the feeling of soft clay. It took a year to experiment with plaster, cement and other materials. And then there was the clay.
“Then there was mixing the clays from all over the world to try to make it permanent and look wet.” says Dutta.
The two pieces on hand, one small and one over five feet. And they do, indeed, look like wet clay.
(see below for examples)
“Some works you do spontaneously. You don’t understand how perfect it was but at a distance? Some works just happen a good feeling—I don’t know it just happens. Some people think when it is done it is over…but..” she says.
And the “but” is that you sometimes come back to the work and reassess it. Sometimes your original opinion adapts.
“The compliments I have gotten on this are; it is unique, not influenced by surroundings.” she says.
She also talked about how she would focus and obsess over a single piece of twine and how it sat. It is something that might make an artist crazy. But such attention to detail, especially in large pieces, is easy to imagine as the difference between a great piece and a good piece. And this piece is striking.
Talking About "Trapped"
But what about India? You hear and see a good deal about galleries in China but what about India? Dutta says galleries in India are booming and they are supporting artists. There is one area for improvement though; Dutta says that critiques are an issue. She says it will take time for this to improve. Art breeds art critics so it is bound to improve!
Watch the videos to see interviews with Dutta on her clay works and also on Trapped.