There is a piece of land in Jharkhand, India, that belonged to my father. But let me be clear – it is not the home of my ancestors, nor is it the home where I grew up, and I am aware that my sense of belonging is shrouded in the feeling of being a stranger there.

The land is barren and empty for the most part, except for a small house and a temple. Many of the photographs I embed in my works are composed of this place, its inherent voids and constant decay. Jharkhand is a new state, culled from a piece of Bihar in 2000. It is a poor state – you know this by the never-ending darkness, the never-ending night. Only occasionally a few bulbs glow golden, and their glimmer is visible from miles away. Light is precious in this place. Light is a miracle.

A few hours away is Kolkata, my home. Kolkata is a city that froths with life, sprawling like the legs of an arachnid, where bodily encounters are anxious, unstable, overripe. I carry it with me always, the viscid heat, the shifting louvers and obscure faces. Buildings press close to each other, breathing, heaving entities in themselves, and we are all witnesses to each other’s lives, in glimpses and fleeting moments.

My work parcel out access in starts and pauses – like memories, they are not always available in their entirety. Photographs and objects are fragments of a missing whole. The layers of sound are essential to the works – auditory recordings are amplified and distorted to the edge of familiarity, like the whisper sounds to the eavesdropper. Our perception is warped by desire.

Desire forms the spinal column of my work, connecting one flicker, one image to another – a desire that is unanswered and unrealizable – focusing on that which cannot be met, cannot be retrieved.

Entry into a room that has been barred and blackened. We are barred because the time that has passed – though it rings and shakes the floors, it cannot be returned to. We are barred because the moment between sound taking shape and filling with meaning is infrathin, too bare to slice in half. We are barred because our vision is made up of blind spots, a series of black (w)holes of existence to which we have no reference.

There is a feeling of being an intruder in one’s home, a spy. There is a feeling of everything being fleeting – and we have no choice but to tell only part of the story. We are destined to be unreliable narrators.

And so, objects are not themselves but carry within them uneasy oppositions, like flower petals entombed in a post-industrial casing, like a sleeping woman bisected by the shutters of her window, like a familiar landscape or piece of earth soaked in rain but drained of color – “a broken egg, a broken eye, or my own dazzled skull weighing down the rock, bouncing symmetrical images back to infinity.” (Bataille)

- Chittrovanu Mazumdar