Devasher’s work seeks to find the connections. Many of her works visually articulate/reticulate the interwovenness of creatures—real , fictional, and those still possible—while another throughline in her practice is the exploration of intimacy between the earthly and the cosmic through astronomical observation. These drawings in the series Observations depict the galaxy “out there” while at the same time recording the galaxy we are deeply embedded within ”right here.” The sense of her solitary observation of and meditation on the universe during her oceanic journey also conveys a sense of closeness with the cosmos rarely ever afforded or accessible in our urbanized habitus. Carl Sagan has called Earth “the shore of the cosmic ocean”—in a kindred manner, Devasher observes our interstellar environs. — AY
Artist Reflection —
Ten years ago, I began a project with amateur astronomers in Delhi—a patient chronicle of this obsessive group of people whose lives have been transformed by the night sky. As this work developed, I became increasingly conscious of the role of “observation” and the “field” or “site” in my practice. Over time, I engaged with the field both as a series of physical sites—skies, sea forts, observatories, telescopes—but also as a methodology, a space for investigation that allows one to explore something unfamiliar, an opportunity to observe relationships between the human and non human.
In the summer of 2018, I spent 26 days on board the High Trust, an oil tanker, as part of an artist’s residency program called the “Owners Cabin.” May and June are the Milky Way season in the Southern Hemisphere. My voyage on the Pacific Ocean during this time meant that every night the Milky Way arched overhead. Added to this was the fact that by international shipping rules all vessels operate in complete darkness. The result is zero light pollution. Every night I documented the night sky. The voyage from Suva (Fiji) to Singapore brought into sharp focus something I have been engaged with for some time: How do we construct the environment and how does the environment construct us? This ongoing project offers various readings of the categories of object and site and how they might open up ways of thinking about time, motion, and the space of humanity within the solar system.
About Rohini Devasher
Rohini Devasher has trained as a painter and printmaker, and works in a variety of media including, video, prints, and site-specific drawings. Her current research brings together her interest in early scientific observational instruments and contemporary observational sciences, specifically astronomy and atmospheric sciences, to study the twin aspects of the Earth’s skies: its celestial constants on one hand, and the mutable objects of the atmosphere, on the other. Recent projects include The Observatory a performative essay in collaboration with Legion Seven performed at Kaserne Basel (October 2020), and Conjunctions and Observing Observation (October 2019) as part of the 5 Million Incidents Project (2019-2020) initiated by the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi & Kolkata, conceptualized in collaboration with Raqs Media Collective.