Sahej Rahal's Barricadia @ CCA, Glasgow
Emoji summary: 👐🏾 ✔️ 🔺
i didn’t make notes while walking around this show; i saw it with friends, with company.
i feel like i mostly see shows alone nowadays, which i like. i like when the art is company, is friend enough.
But this time, writing about Sahej Rahal’s show from only my memory, i feel like i only saw a glimpse of it from my peripheral vision.
i remember reading a book when i was 16. I cannot, for the life of me remember what book it was. don’t ask, i don’t know. There’s bit that describes a moment of clarity. Shiv the destroyer dances, moving his feet slowly, eternally looping. as he dances, the world crumbles. Karka Maa dips her hand into a puddle of blood, wipes it along her outstretched tongue, raises her hand to the world, blood drips down her hand, off her outstretched tongue and onto the floor. It sprouts into a demon and Shiv crushes the demon almost immediately with the force of his foot. Dancing dancing dancing on. They hiss and stomp; hanging tongue, raised hands. It was a weird book. I read it and i didn’t understand it. rly annoyed i can’t remember which book bc tbh i should re-read it.
Barricadia felt like it was slowly disintegrating, fraying away at the edges.
I feel like that was the point; time frozen just at that moment where Karka Maa’s hand dips into the blood; just as Shiv’s foot is about to make contact with the floor. slightly, ever so slightly feral.
in the main room at the back two videos are projected on opposite walls. they face each other and play sometimes in tandem, sometimes slightly different. It all slips against each other. There are large sculptures in the back room too. Too poor, too scratchy. i wish they weren’t there. They make me feel quite ill. Like Anish Kapoor’s lumpy sculptures, I never want to look for too long. I always look away too soon to try and decipher their weight.
All the same, regardless of weight, they feel too large, too heavy, too cluttered. I wish there was something in floor between the videos but on that floor level. These sculptures were in my eyeline and they offended me.
The video slipped between long landscapes, white ppl singing in a yurt (?), and idk what it was; Bhojpuri bangers being blasted out over a street party in India. A flag waves over the crowd of rowdy lads; they’re all shouting along.
It felt like a channel 4 documentary. or those lil bitesized snippets in between shows, advertising other shows?
like montage, like none of it rly fit together, but i rly don’t mean that badly the hodge-podge assemblage stitching felts so nice rubbing up against me. But i have to be honest, the back room baffled me, i was less grabbed by it in comparison to the two front rooms through which you enter.
(this is only an aside. i don’t want to dwell, bc truly i did like this show)
a wooden bench with furry upholstery, publications are on the furry top. the bench is a right angle facing a box screen on the floor surrounded by lil terracotta sculptures. on the box screen: a serene ganesh dada with his right hand raised to the viewer floats in black space. He wobbles as an image. The publication is strange. it feels like it’s also stitched together awkwardly;;; a cluster of aphorisms, this feels like someone’s printed their notebook as it is, no edits. I appreciate it alongside the show, but it doesn’t help me on my way. at some point while writing this, i have to release any need to try and decipher meaning bc i won’t get it. I release it now. ahhh, it’s ok.
this is one of those shows that just is. i was happy with the way it made me feel. Grass and mud squeezing through netted fabric. Dust and a flickering television. A new book with someone else’s thoughts for me to hold onto as well as my own. I guess that makes it feel quite personal and vulnerable. i guess it was.
low lighting, long tables like..,.,, heavy workbenches
the same red clay sculptures are on the tables, laid out this time, piled up.
there are so many of them.
I remember Mohenjo-Daro, an ancient city in Sindh that existed during the time of pharaohs; and as i remember i can’t quite decide if this feels like an ending or a beginning. the sculptures feel like a heavy swarm, but too small to many for me to describe. they are somewhere around illegible, but also some of them are forms i recognise as things, but not quite well enough to pin down.
A box screen again sat on the table, the red clay lumps piled around it and on top.
this time a film of a man in robes, in a courtyard in the dark; waving a neon rod like a lightsabre. i never saw his face. i can tell it’s in India. i don’t know how, i could be wrong but it felt like india.
These rooms sat somewhere between Mythology & magic, and dust. i prefer the way they settled into the space; low lighting and dramatic tension. When my boyfriend went to india, he told me about this wild mandir he went to. Apparently they were all small lil rooms you had to crawl into, bc the doors were that small. inside the rooms, sat happy gods. Each at home in their small clay cave, happily shaped out of red clay. This felt like my boy’s description of that. not in the way of devotional kind of spectacle; rather the opposite. But the settled-ness, the one-ness, the medium meant something in both cases. The mandir felt like the red clay was there to make it feel earthy-crunchy. not too lavish, jus a nice space for the happy gods to sit and be. the show feels like a gurgling stomach; when you swallow a lump of phlegm you coughed up and you can feel it sliding down, bubbling as you widen your throat; like the way thinking about sponges makes me feel (sick in my throat, thinking about the holes, the texture). it wasn’t quite here or there, but it was somewhere. I didn’t have to understand it, pin it down on a map or explain it to myself. i didn’t have to do anything other than lean into my taste and feel the show wash over me. I can be happy with the feeling. I felt like a happy god in my red clay cave.
Sahej Rahal's show: Barricadia is on at CCA in Glasgow until 29th October