GUARDING, 2016, PIGMENT, COTTON, WOOL, ACRYLIC & SAND (10 ft X 4 ft); As I kept scrolling through the pictures of my Tangdhar trip, I noticed an object that kept reappearing, tacked in front of the soldiers on guard, thrown on tin roof tops, sitting under my arm while I was firing, resting in water when I crossed a stream to take a picture on a rock, or simply lingering anywhere I walked. The sandbag showed its presence so very often. In my eyes, the Indian soil and Indian soldier share something in common. On one hand, protecting “Mere desh ki mitti” (my country’s soil) is a soldier’s ultimate undertaking, so the soldier is protecting the land and the soil; on the other hand, sand filled in bags, along with rocks and boulders, have often been used as shields, so the soil and land protects men from bullets and bombshells. They play a reciprocal role.
This beautiful relation of “I protect you” and “you protect me” inspires me to use threads to paint a landscape. A landscape that has danger hidden in each fold and layer. A landscape that is protected. Threads shift in color from darker greys to greens to atmospheric greys and move to and fro in a quality ranging from fibrous wools to refined twisted cottons, illustrating the shift in landscape and variety in vegetation. The weight of the stuffed fabric creates a natural tapering bottom as if it were a real fence in perspective. This cloth is woven with delicate threads, but its construction is strong enough to sustain more than 60 pounds of weight in its arms, just like the unbreakable protection created by each single soldier in ambush.
The landscape continues to be guarded. It will so remain, until the sun rises from the west. These stories will grow buds in many other little ones of the family, will remain with some and inspire some.