The idea for Dev Dhunsi’s Akhada Temporarily Closed Due to Fog came during a visit to India to cover the regional wrestling form called Kabaddi, which is distinctly different from typical wrestling since it is a team sport. In the exhibition space, visitors are invited to look beyond the horizon of western sports.
- C-Print

Interview in:

What can be said about the theme and form of your work Akhada temporarily closed due to fog (2022) in the exhibition?

Dev Dhunsi: The theme of the work is directly connected to Kabaddi and the “akhada” which is the name of the arena where most of the practices and performances take place within the sport. It is treated like a temple where you are not allowed to bring in tobacco or other substances and indeed have to follow certain rules. Since it’s a team wrestling sport and based on the connectivity and movement within chaos and order, I felt the desire to translate this “holy playground for wrestling”-sphere to the exhibition, without only bringing direct documentation from my on-site research.

In simple terms, the installation is a sandbox containing elements from an akhada. The sand is red just like a classic akhada, and it can also resemble the north indian sunsets glaring red light because of fog or pollution, often called smog. Four glasses of milk resembling how the wrestlers drink milk directly from the cow kept near the akhada. Speed boxing bags chained together as one big bunch of grapes. With lastly the projection on shaped sand and its soundscape. The film (Temporarily, HD-video 40:00 min) is a birds-eye view of the movements of 8 dancers following and breaking the rules of Kabaddi. One of the rules for instance is when an attacker from the one team tries to touch or tackle the opponent team, they have to hold their breath. For referees to keep track they are forced to repeat the word kabaddi. Creating visual evidence of how the breath is slowly burning out, sometimes one can hear their next moves by the tonalities and rhythm combined with their bodily movements.

Mixed media sculpture, 150 x  200 x 150 cm 

Currently on view:

The Ring Beyond the Mat - an exhibition in three chapters

Oct 7 2022 – Jan 1 2023

Curated by Ashik & Koshik Zaman (C-print)

Artists: Clément Courgeon, Jasmin Daryani, Dev Dhunsi, Ditte Ejlerskov, Constantin Hartenstein, Theodor Johansson, KOR’SIA, Josefina Malmegård

Konsthall 16 / Riksidrottsmuseum


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