Contested·Territories

 

Contested IV comprises mezzotint and etched copper, photo-polymer gravure plates, and laser cut and etched acrylic, mirrored by, and adjacent to, the subsequent prints. The oddly shaped fragments consisting of different materials held in stasis by a grid, are derived from maps. The colouring of both the plates and prints of Contested IV has special significance; the orange of the copper, the white wall behind the acrylic, and green of the photo-polymer correspond to India’s flag, whilst the dark green and white of the prints themselves reference that of Pakistan. The central ‘contested’ territory is Kashmir, with India below and Pakistan to the side. The plates and prints warrant close inspection, the surface imagery – consisting of signifiers of cultural identity, is itself contested, occupied by another layer competing for one’s attention. Place names have all but been erased, only fragments of words, and odd letters and numbers remain. What appear to be networks of roads and rivers correlating to geographic locations could just as easily be neuronal networks, a central nervous system, or a cross-section of the cerebral cortex. 

 

 

 

The viewer is also presented with a form strongly reminiscent of the Rorschach test. This well-known ink blot test used by Rorschach in the diagnosis of schizophrenia shares an obvious affinity with the materials and processes common to printmaking, however, a deeper affinity is implied here, one in which a comparison is drawn between nation states and states of mind. It also seems fitting that Rorschach’s psycho-diagnostic plates should serve as a point of departure (or arrival) in a gallery setting where the viewer assumes the roles of both analyst and patient.

 

 

 

The delineation of the shapes of Contested II: Unconfigured (above) is not arbitrary, the cut along the central section follows a portion of the demarcation line drawn during the armistice agreements between Israeli and Arab forces in 1949.