Changing Planet/The Second Coming

A collaborative project with Ciaran Fahey in Berlin, this work was created for the Changing Planet Exhibition in Berlin. In W B Yeat’s Second Coming, we found a rhythm to the back and forth response between two opposites sides of the world: Kerala in India and Berlin in Germany. His remorseless dirge to the world resonates the same today as it did during the WWI. The same misled anarchy, the passionate intensity of the worst, the blood-dimmed tide drowning innocents. And unchecked ceremonies that defeat the very purpose of salvation they were meant for. 

 

On the Kerala side, I explored Nature in our spiritual lives. Of deities that could be human, tree or animal. And the glacial movement of Hinduism that in its early days from 2000 B.C had an admirable capacity for abstractions and subtle concepts. That could imagine the supreme consciousness as being Nature itself, over time forgetting the life-death-life rule encoded in it, and descending into blind rituals and careless familiarity of exactly that which it worshipped. The work drew much of its inspiration from the Oachira temple: the only temple in India to the Parabrahman (the supreme genderless, formless consciousness) that was originally conceived as an open space with only trees to worship to. I was stunned at the discovery of its existence. Today, the trees are mere background settings for a cast of the standard Gods and accessible iconography. One of them has even been pruned to resemble Nandi. Wooden tokens can be bought to leave behind prayers. In their grouping I find equal weightage to the whole planet. And yet, and yet, to think of how it all unpacked. Fascinatingly for me, Shiva's trident that symbolises the eternal creation and destruction act, evokes the relentless turn of the gyre, widening and narrowing on itself. They stand as either portents or revelations, depending on who is listening.

Elsewhere on the banks of the Periyar river, where my home is, a Swayambhu temple bears the burden of death rituals. Bones, ashes, terracotta broken pots and blood red covering cloths make the river bed a surreal afterworld. Where prayers are left for a better world in another life. Will it be too obvious to mention what they do to the world we actually live in, here and now?

(Audio on and click to play) 

Riverbed lined with ashes, bones of the dead and broken terracota pots that held these.
Periyar river banks and the remains of funeral rites
Periyar river banks and the remains of funeral rites
Prayer icons at Ochira temple. Humans, animals and plants hold equal ground.
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Ochira Temple. An abstract palce of worship goes the way of the idol and familiar gods with human forms
Ochira Temple. An abstract palce of worship goes the way of the idol and familiar gods with human forms
Riverbed on the banks of Periyar lined with ashes, bones of the dead and broken terracota pots that held these.