Memory of a long time ago: For weeks an air of excitement pervaded my mother’s village. Every morning after the milk churning, women had kept some butter aside for him. Pounded almonds, milk and ghee were supplied with eager regularity. After all it was the entire village’s responsibility to keep him beefed up. Traditionally, villages in the Punjab always nurtured their mallas: wrestlers trained in the art of mallayuddha. Since the hoary past they formed the first line of defence against invaders.
Then, one early morning I heard the drum beat on the outskirts of the village and saw everybody head for the bout with a kind of assured fervidness. Before long I saw them returning and a pall of gloom hung over the tiny village. Their malla had returned home vanquished. He was defeated by Malla of the neighbouring village.
Sweet Unease: Same person sits eating in the left and the right hand canvas. They have a slightly varying mannerism. Each room has a different ambience. They eat non-stop at the table and occasionally get up leaving behind them their painted selves on the canvas and meet on the wall where they engage in perpetual wrestling taking on different personas.
Simply put, food sustains life, and in this installation ‘eating’ is a metaphor for it and ‘wrestling’ the struggle with life’s questions. Ranbir Kaleka 2010