‘Cutting chai’ the phrase originated in Mumbai, when one cup of Chai was shared between more than one person. Hence the idea of dialogue, bonding, communication, community…. sharing…here it is as an installation …for me art derives from life and art is connected with living…but is this art? What is art? Who decides what is art?
The installation is made of metal servers traditionally called “Cheekka’ which are used to serve tea in rural areas. Chai being the common accomplice to any conversation in all strata holds a very recognizable space.
In fact while painting for me, it’s a medium between my painting and me. It helps me holding my conversation intact with my canvas and me. I have used teacups and the idea of tea as a means of introspection and even leading to final liberation. It holds and important dialogue between me and my inner, my outer, my social and my spiritual world.
Hence, the need for this installation.
1) The readymade material involves the whole idea of installation. That is the root of the concept, as when I saw it as a Diwali gift to be distributed I wanted to use it for my artwork. I feel already available new or used material connects the installation to the present and also to the common man.
2) Its rustic in material not in design. It’s rural in nature as its used by the common man from the lowest strata to the higher up. As the design of a “Cheeka” is extremely contemporary in utility. Without any complications it serves the purpose and has been around for almost a little less than a century, since the idea of “chai” and the “chai dukan” came about.
3) The artist in me came around as I feel that chai holds many conversations, dialogues and intimate spaces. It is a part of my working space and also I have paid an ode to it by making tea cups, tea glasses, kettles. They help me hold a conversation in my outer space with society, my inner space with my canvas and the most inner silent spaces while i interrogate and introspect with in. My most resent work for my collateral at Kochi Biennial as called “a storm in my tea cup”. I even Have a tree of liberation with teacups hanging instead of leaves. This work was done almost 8 years back. “Chai” is also the first thing with which we start our day, new beginnings, whichever class of strata we belong to.
“Cheeka” also implies that the person is not alone and with company.
Seema Kohli’s art practice involves various disciplines from drawing, painting, sculptures, installations and performance. The most significant one to emerge is ‘Performance Art’. Decay, hybridization & transformation: Creating new identity; reshaping belongings; intimacy; a dialogue of matter and memory all these constitute the language of her work. “Time” as a factor, is central to her practice, whether it’s a wrapped object or a performance. She uses time as medium, which is extended, assembled and captured. The aspects of continuity, repetition, vulnerability, duration, temporality, awareness, situation and public involvement are also inherent qualities that inform her art practice. The process before and after the performance/installation is equally important and challenging.