El- डोराडो

  • Post category:Exhibitions

El-Dorado was born out of a coronation ritual that the Muisca undertook so that the gods would bless their new king’s reign. It makes for quite the image: a to-be king, adorned from head to toe in gold dust, travelling in a raft laden with innumerable treasures on Lake Guatavita, his attendants ceremoniously throwing treasures into the depths – and so, the story goes, narrated over 400 years ago.

This story would send many conquistadors and explorers to their death, searching for a city laden with gold – after all, how else could the Muisca have all that gold to throw away? Forever chasing an illusion too good to be true, the consequences of their quest were almost karmic.

We, too, have a story for you. A story laden with hues of yellow – not gold, but turmeric, where a modern-day ritual near Kolhapur inspired a photographic quest like none other. The Birdev Yatra celebrates Birdev – a local deity revered by the dhangars (shepherds), embodied by a Baba – Sri Keloba Rajabhau Waghmode – who walks for 17 days to reach the ritual site. His blessings come in the form of predictions, sagely advice and wish-granting abilities, where he – and everyone present – are adorned with turmeric in the quest towards prosperity and happiness.

In both these cases – the coronation of a king, or that of a godman – the focus is never on the end result, but the ritual itself. The Birdev festival becomes the shephards’ El- डोराडो, where, the application of colour – be it gold, or yellow – transforms the space from the profane to the sacred.

This exhibition attempts to recreate these mystical journeys that lead seemingly nowhere, providing an illusion so powerful that they change your perspective towards reality. The eye and the brain can be fooled with a simple application of monochrome; where other, more subtle details emerge as our world becomes tinctured by this lens.

We invite all of you down this yellow-brick-road, where the search for meaning and the appreciation of singular hues is one and the same – where any space can be transformed into the mythical El- डोराडो – provided you look hard enough for it.

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