The Gift and Its Offerings
“I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire,” a character in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury recalls his father saying to him, alongside the gift of a watch. It’s a generational present—the watch was the narrator’s grandfather’s—as well as a generational curse: he’s obsessed with the passage of time, wracked with guilt and despair. Curated by Arshiya Lokhandwala, “Given Time: The Gift and Its Offerings,” at Aicon Gallery, explores similar ideas of reciprocity and commitment—drawing upon Derrida’s idea of a gift delineating a temporal interval before its counter-gift, to meditate on the nature of time.
Raqs Media Collective considers the moment between the initiation and completion of a phrase. This is illustrated by an animated holographic clock, where the hour hand points to the word “Tight” and the minute hand to “Rope,” before they both swing downward with the pull of gravity and point to “Free/ fall.” Other works take an ecocritical approach to the idea of a gift — in this case an unpleasant one. For instance, Sheba Chhachhi’s Edible Birds I, II & III (Triptych) (2007), where mesmerizing kaleidoscopic images of human figures and natural flora are set within light boxes; then there is Prajakta Potnis’s Capsule 7 (2015), a photograph of a tree in a frigid landscape, which upon further inspection reveals itself to be the inside of a freezer. N. Pushpamala might take the most expansive temporal range between gift and return: in Atlas of Rare and Lost Alphabets (2020), the artist etches lost ancient scripts onto copper plates—a kind of resurrection via re-inscription.
Raqs Media Collective, Whenever The Heart Skips A Beat (Still), 2012. Animated Horological Video, 4 minutes 30 seconds.