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Review: Reeba Saini Kallat/Walsh Gallery

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The themes of love, loss and political instability permeate the multimedia installations of Reena Saini Kallat. In “Silt of Seasons,” an installation of sand shaped to delineate the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, Kallat addresses the divisive politics of the two countries, beginning in 1947 with their battle for control of Kashmir. Digitally projected on the sand in succession are the names of missing people, each one dissipating slowly as virtual grains of sand fly away. A series of portraiture entitled “Synonym” also deals with missing persons; here, Kallat assembles painted rubber stamps between Plexiglas panels to construct large-scale portraits of the missing. She again employs rubber stamps in “Crease/Crevice/Contour,” this time marking the body with names; a series of ten photographs shows the stages of the Indian-Pakistani war and the shifting borders of the Line of Control, stamped in red ink on a woman’s back. In “Lunar Notes,” Kallat moves on to the marking of public spaces, this time in the name of love. She juxtaposes photographs of graffiti scrawled by young lovers on public monuments with a screen of marble beads depicting the Taj Mahal, understood by many as the ultimate monument to love. Embossed on the beads are lovers’ names, some of which the artist found in graffiti, while others were extracted from Indian history and literature. Kallat sees this installation as her monument to love; however, this metaphor is a bit strained. There is a tension between the typically dignified use of marble and its fabrication into a kitschy beaded screen. Kallat’s works as a whole imply the transitory nature of love and political boundaries, try as she might to set them in stone. (Karen Huang)

Through October 11 at Walsh Gallery, 118 N. Peoria, (312)829-3312


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