At Home With The Stars

Rohini Devasher

Rohini Devasher, winner of the Skoda Breakthrough Artist Award 2012,talks about using art, science and fiction in her works

There is a familiarity in the unfamiliar. At a microscopic level, the lateral roots seem to branch into neutrons and veins. The larger picture, though, represents a landscape where the dark lines are either cracks in the stratosphere or an aerial view of the surrounding topography. This is Rohini Devasher's hybridised world — one that she shared in her work Monographed Geographies I — at the Project 88 booth at India Art Fair. "An art collector said it reminded him of Namibia. It could be anywhere," says Sree Goswami, director of Project 88. She had hosted Devasher's first solo, "Breed" in 2009 and remembers her as a "shy girl", who was then working at Delhi-based arts organisation Khoj Studios. Devasher, 34, who has won the Skoda Breakthrough Artist Award 2012, is happiest working on nature, and morphing elements of botanical, zoological and the human worlds. Her inspirations range from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's idea of the archetypal plant to English ethnologist Richard Dawkins' automatically generated forms "biomorphs". An amateur astronomer, Devasher, has also introduced the sky in her art. At the Kochi Biennale, Devasher is exploring the possibilities of an alternative landscape in Parts Unknown, a suite of seven videos that is a window to the mythical landscape of Ladakh.

How would you describe your journey from Khoj, where you worked for almost six years, to here and now.

I was slow and steady, and in some ways I have been privileged. I was never driven by commercial success. It helped that I was working with Khoj initially, and art was not my bread and butter. In an ideal situation, what I make should be what people want, but I know that cannot be the case all the time. Commerce has no validation beyond the market and I wanted to continue to experiment.

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