Installation view at Forum Schlossplatz, Aarau
‘ Profound Faith in Their Dreams’ is an assemblage of works that delves into the current political, religious, and social upheaval transpiring in India. In this new body of work, Swagata Bhattacharyya engages with the moments of political and religious violence characteristic of the contemporary tumultuous political landscape of India, where majoritarian Hindu populaces have unleashed their animosity upon minority communities, including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Dalit caste groups. By culling out images sourced from newspapers, websites, and social media platforms affiliated with Hindutva groups, Bhattacharyya has sought to reflect upon the nightmarish reality propagated by Hindutva fascism that underpins this discord and seeks to assert control over minority rights to perpetuate a Hindu majoritarian society.
In this battle of establishing religious hegemony, culture becomes a weapon. In the case of religious processions unleashed in public spaces, especially mosques and spaces populated by Muslim communities, such encounters are intertwined with songs, sounds, visual imagery, and symbolism, creating a harrowing tapestry of hatred. Through careful graphical and digital manipulation, Bhattacharyya blends multiple images, transforms videos into panoramic vistas, subtracts elements, and makes additions to these visual perpetuations of communal discord, in a way highlighting the physical and symbolic destruction left in the wake of the processions. By pushing these images into the realm of fiction, imagination and absurdity, he presents a narrative that remains rooted in the reality of the Indian political context, yet simultaneously removed.
Beyond the signifiers of violence in religious processions, Bhattacharyya also delves into the violence perpetuated by cow vigilantes by drawing reference from such groups prevalent in northern states of India. He engages with the disturbing reality of their actions again through the manipulation of the existing archive of visual documentation of such violence posted and often live-streamed, by these very groups on social media.
In parallel to these drawings, Bhattacharyya explores the signs of propaganda within urban spaces, particularly through a large-scale drawing of a garbage dumping and processing facility. By adopting a fictional perspective, he constructs a narrative surrounding an imagined nation-state and its modes of propaganda. This examination invites viewers to engage with these spaces critically and reflects upon the subtle yet pervasive means through which ideologies are disseminated.