Mumbai-based artist Sarika Bajaj uses feathers to articulate ecological concerns


Route I

Route I | Photo courtesy: Kalpit Gaonkar

In Mumbai's parks, abandoned buildings and squares where birds are fed, Sarika Bajaj, a wandering multidisciplinary artist from Bandra, searches for discarded feathers. These are tools of his expressionism as well as a means of expressing ecological concerns. “I have been working with feathers for about 12 years,” she says, talking about her solo exhibition titled Requiem at Anupa Mehta Contemporary Art in Colaba. Starting March 14, it will display two of his tapestries, photographs, a sculpture, a performance costume, and a performance art video.

route eight

Route VIII Photo courtesy: Kalpit Gaonkar

Sarika's fondness for the unconventional medium stems from innocuous childhood memories of feeding birds, which later turned into a frivolous thought about the impact of concretization on the natural habitat of feathered creatures. Sarika, who started her career in art with presentations at the Kunst Art Fair, Zurich 2011 and Scope Basel, says, “I became interested in the cultural symbolism associated with birds, their role in the ecosystem and how they are ultimately losing their habitat. “I started studying in.” 2011. These are the ideas that shape his artistic vocabulary, expanding the narrative of humans' interactions with nature.


remains Photo courtesy: Baba Patil

The difficult storage of plums takes years. The process of his treatment is also long. So, Sarika collects pens from the van. “When I find a feather, I put it in boric powder and freeze it. Then, it is washed with hydrogen peroxide and dried. Later, I cut off the pen,” she adds. Sarika explored the idea of ​​working with pens and creating elaborate tapestries during the pandemic years. Those on display in Requiem are titled Relics and Remains. “I started working on these two tapestries last year. The base is jute on which I tie bundles of cuttings with colorful threads,” says Sarika. She calls this repetitive, rhythmic process “meditative.” “It takes thousands of quills to make a tapestry. Sometimes, when I run out of wings, I use other means like ropes,” she adds. This experimentation is reflected in the hoop-like sculpture after which the exhibition is named.

make a request

request | Photo courtesy: Baba Patil

“It took me a few years to create this artwork. It is made from rope, cloth and threads. It talks about silence, emptiness and loss, both personal and ecological. It begs the question – how do you reconcile what is lost and what is left,” shares Sarika.

In search of a dialogue that locates art within the realm of environmental consciousness, Sarika turns inward. Her performance art video – titled Passage, shot by photographer Kalpit Gaonkar – she says is an extension of her creations and being one with the environment. “It was at Bikaner House where I demonstrated performance art by wearing my artwork for the first time. In the video, I have wrapped myself by joining two tapestries together. There is also a group of photographs clicked by Kalpit, which documents the performance. It shows me wandering across abstract topographies, questioning the meaning of my existence,” she shares.

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Route V | Photo courtesy: Kalpit Gaonkar

Although art alone cannot be a catalyst for change, Sarika is worthy of its propensity to create awareness. She concludes, “As I look inward, I think people who engage with my art will also look inward to answer uncomfortable questions about our attitudes toward the environment.”

The artworks are on sale and go up to ₹15 lakh (except taxes); Till 30th April.

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