Reevaluating Western Perspectivism
Dev Dhunsi, a Norwegian-Indian multidisciplinary artist and photographer based in Stockholm is currently presenting his inaugural solo exhibition at MELK, Oslo. “Encircling Stories” features images captured during Dhunsi’s seven-year exploration, spanning from Punjab to Goa, traversing diverse regions of India by train. The exhibition reveals evolving relationships with land, highlighting the complexities of a region undergoing agricultural challenges, monoculture threats, and dispossession.
Over recent years, Dhunsi’s artistic focus has centred on his journeys to India, his father’s native country. His projects, showcased in expansive installations, seamlessly blend textiles, lens-based works, and experimental printing techniques into captivating mixed-media presentations. Delving beyond the visual, Dhunsi’s images explore socio political and anthropological questions, contemplating themes of identity, origin, and cultural intersections.
Often immersed in water and sound, Dhunsi’s captivating images challenge viewers to move beyond the confines of a single photograph. The complexity of his narratives unfolds through installations, where images spin, split, and move, becoming integral parts of a larger artistic landscape.
In contrast to Dhunsi’s usual dynamic approach, the current exhibition at Melk features still images, departing from his typical mechanical system that renders images unreadable. Despite the stillness, an underlying sense of floating persists, challenging contemporary perceptions of stability. Dhunsi’s exploration extends to the transformation of a site into a sight, prompting contemplation on photography’s historical role in land appropriation.
Through “Encircling Stories,” Dhunsi raises questions about photography’s dual function: capturing landscapes and serving power dynamics. The exhibition challenges viewers to recognize their role as non-agential witnesses, inadvertently participating in the reproduction of dispossession. Dhunsi’s images from moving carriages across India offer a glance at the impact of capitalization on land rights and the resulting displacement of communities.
The core images of a textile factory producing bed sheets, once accompanied by sound, now haunt the exhibition, emphasising the connection between visual and auditory experiences. Dhunsi’s work encourages a reevaluation of Western perspectivism, suggesting the potential for a new era driven by chaos and transformative revolution.
Words by Fabzirio Mifsud Soler
Antonio Cataldo eloquently explores these themes in the accompanying text to the exhibition on view until December 3rd 2023.
Images courtesy of the artist and Melk Galleri, Oslo
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