RIOT! Artist Interviews #3: Prat Talegaonkar & Bryan Mew

RIOT! is Connection Arts Space’s current digital group exhibition being delivered daily via Instagram.  The exhibition carves out a space for our artists and the audience to explore various themes such as philosophy, social issues, politics, spirituality and religion, while seeking to elevate voices that are typically pushed to the margins. We asked participating artists one simple but complex question:

WHY DO YOU RIOT?

Prat Talegaonkar

@lotusladyfinger

“Monday Night” (2020)

I riot so I can re-create.

I create art so I can re-create my inner world.

I imagine a world of surreal landscapes and vivid mental states that tell a story about how it feels to be a woman of colour, a Being nonetheless, making sense of stuff, of life. I am not a wordsmith or big on my public identity, so I like to use collage as a medium to communicate and vocalise parts of my identity that are screaming for attention.

Through my collages, I riot against so many issues that intersect the social, political, psychological, and specifically the personal. Everything is very much interconnected and interdependent, like a web. You tweak one thread and all other strands follow.

My worldview is a reflection of a very chaotic inner world. My collage art is a contemplation of this. Sometimes the final collage that appears out the process of creating art is either simply the result of chance or it is meticulously deliberate. But mostly I leave the majority of my artwork to chance. It’s like going on a scavenger hunt, you never know what you might find. But most of the time, it is a scary revelation about myself that’s been suppressed over the years or just an opportunity that helps me get over myself. It is like therapy. I create artwork so I can simply just escape a deep seeded identity crisis that I walk around with. I believe that I am getting there and I certainly don’t believe it will ever end.

I suppose if I had to find a single word that expressed that one thing I am rioting against, then it is ‘injustice’. I think injustice is a fashionable word used these days and appears in many forms. But it is true, everybody lives with more than one form of injustice in their lives.
But my art fantasises the opposite of ‘injustice’. It glamorises ‘symbolically’ our ability to seek a form of ‘justice’ in the most surreal way possible, through art. Therefore, my collage art is indeed a way to riot and to seek justice.

I riot conventionalism, patriarchy, and customs that trap and oppress women.
I riot a system of racism that is the result of a capitalist society puppeteered by modern-day oppressors.
I riot a system that generates white male privilege and degenerates everything else.
I riot the effect of confusion, depression and delusion wrought on millennials by a generation that preceded them.
I riot against the trauma felt by women of colour growing up in a post-colonial society that tries to exoticise them.
I riot the mundane, everyday objects that remind us we are a cog in the wheel of a giant imaginary machine.
I riot the reality that has been fed to us by all means, to enslave our minds to be trapped and to serve a purpose other than our own freedom.
I riot so I can be free. I hope that my art creates emotion in those who can relate. I mean, what’s the point in making stuff if it does not make people feel something?

Bryan Mew

@bb.mew

Over these unprecedented times of isolation and lockdown this year, I have learnt to regain consciousness with the inner unconscious self — namely the significance of my dreams. In contemporary society, there is an unwillingness to admit the significance of dreams through our obsession with rationalism and materialism. We as humans have severed our belief in the inner spiritual world, projecting the dependency of our motivation, purpose and existence to external forces. 

I riot, especially through my art this year, to induce an increase in one’s own self-awareness, whether it be to pay more attention to our own dreams to create dissonance between reality and dream-state, or to question the nature of our realities.

We are finding it harder to play imaginatively and instead ask Youtube or Netflix to play at us, for us and replace our own human responsibility and capacity to imagine. We are swamped by massive amounts of information from the internet, the mobility and convenience of devices from the digital age, just in case we suffer withdrawal symptoms from a lack of information. Such behaviour can in the long run serve only to sever the individual from the inner self, condemning us to believe that the answers to our questions lie outside in the literal world, rather than in the metaphors and images that move behind closed curtains within us when we dream.

It’s odd when one reflects upon the fact that we sleep on average 8 hours a night with a quarter of that time spent dreaming. The science behind REM sleep in our sleep cycles has proven that we as humans, all dream. Each and every night, we are subjected to another reality, a world of fiction, invention and imagination that often coincide with the people, places, and things we know from our waking reality. By forgetting the symbolic language hidden within our dreams, we are ironically asleep constantly, depriving ourselves of imagination, our own myths, our own plots, and thus vulnerable to living out others’ pre-formed, stereotyped and prepackaged lives. 

I riot, because I truly believe we are imaginative, reflective beings with the audacity to dream and fantasise, and to see past the dogmatic bullshit society throws at us everyday. My artworks are psychological paintings, capturing the essence of the unconscious that represents the manifestation of my true self, and the only truth I can accept as my own.

The RIOT! exhibition continues until Friday 16 October via Connection Arts Space’s Instagram. You can also keep up with the exhibition via Facebook.

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