A lens-eye view of global heritage

STRANGE PORTRAYAL

Sitting through a boring board meeting, many kill time doodling or surreptitiously exchanging chat messages, under the table. But for this creative director in communication design, even boring meetings become a source of thoughtful ideas as he searches for the roots of our heritage.

“While working with the fashion industry in China, I was attending a meeting one day and my sight registered the faces around me making me question ‘What are we doing here?’,” says David Schocken describing the story behind one of his video installation which focuses on the face of a girl  through a fragmented piece hanging between the projector and the wall. “When I saw the expression on the face of this girl, I could feel that she had the same questions in her mind.” He thus devised a way to bring her face in focus while blurring the rest to ma­ke an installation displa­yed as part of his exhibition ‘Heritage’ at Instituto Cervantes.

With every artwork, Schocken raises the question – ‘What is heritage according to you?’ Compiling pieces fr­om different walks of life and assembling them together in an unusual manner is what this art exhibition is about. 

From the two videos shot in Hong Kong to the one taken in India, there is a common thread of continuity in Schocken’s works. The people coming down and going up on the escalators in two separate videos have different expressions on their faces yet travel at a common pace. In the video captured on a bridge in Rishikesh, it is the numbers that startle Schocken, but to an Indian eye the presence of a scooter and pedestrians at the same time on a narrow bridge is not that surprising.

There is a connection between the hollow frame with a digital reader flashing the words ‘Home Sweet Home’ and the machine of a clock with an aeroplane figure attached to its seconds hand. Standing in front of the frame, a viewer realises that ‘home is where one is’. Similarly, the fast movement of the clock’s machine makes one acknowledge our fast-paced lives as we fly from one part of the planet to another.

Schocken expresses fears about “losing our heritage with every passing minute” even through use of Google printouts. A sheet showing the pattern of usage of the word ‘Temporality’ along with its meaning draws the attention of the visitors and Schocken explains, “Only in the last 50 years the use of the word has increased, whereas words like ‘home’ and ‘people’, were quite popular till a few years back.” 

The sim cards that he used in the past five years have al­so become his mode of expr­e­ssion along with the fragile and expensive cups and kettle that he inherited from his previous generation. “I once poured hot water in them and they cracked for they hadn’t been used for years,” he says, reflecting his thou­ghts on the similar fragility of human relationships. 

The Israeli artist also traces his own journey and prints it out on a paper to be hung up as part of the exhibition. Interestingly, he uses only magnets in rusted boxes to hang all these works. “When we insert a nail in a wall or use a tape, we damage the wall. Magnets on the other hand not only save the wall from any damage but also allow one to hang things only where there is availability of iron in the wall. The case of magnets attracting each other can be compared to a group of people, whose stories I want to explore,” says Schocken and adds quickly, “I shall leave no evidence behind, since magnets don’t leave traces!”

The exhibition is on display at Instituto Cervantes till June 30. 

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