Reversed Curses

WORK IN PROGRESS

Artist’s book (‘Gurgaon Gita’), full colour, 120 pp; Wall texts, framed Lightjet photographs and duratran prints in light boxes; Artist’s film: (‘The Psychosis of Reason’), 14 min HD 

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Using combinations of a 400-line rhyming poem I have composed and photographs and film I shot in Northern India, this project continues my research into the capacities of poetry and lens-based media to present fictional world views.

In ‘Reversed Curses’, we see the world from the viewpoint of Aarav, an Indian Railways clerk who is approaching retirement. His interior conversations, with his god Krishna and other voices, are told as a long sequence of lentos: a form of eight-line, rhyming verse. The central theme of ‘Reversed Curses’ is religious faith, and how to lead a good life without it. Reflecting on those pertinent questions that Prince Arjuna fails to ask of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, Aarav runs over the text of the Gita in his head and takes issue with many of Krishna’s assertions. Krishna’s benign voice morphs into those of others characters who do not seem to have Aarav’s best interests at heart.

If Aarav loses his faith, how will he create meaning in his world? And if faith has cursed his life, how can he reverse the curse? These, and other questions are posed alongside a fast-changing backdrop of contemporary India. The project plays on the repetition and reversals of train journeys and the paradox that, as Kierkegaard wrote, ‘Life must be understood backwards. But it must be lived forwards’.

‘Gurgaon Gita’, Artist’s book, full colour: 120 pp

‘A Psychosis of Reason’, Artist’s film: 14 min HD

Installation views of work in progress exhibition, Victoria House, London

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Marrying her; settling here:

my life’s cardinal, cardiac error.

Only realising it now aged fifty-nine

through train-window and rear-view mirror.

Or marrying her; settling here:

This flood of love means your heart’s not alone.

Nursing it gently at that time in your life

when it turns into silver or stone…

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All images copyright Justin Coombes except 7th from top: copyright Townshend Photography, and 14th from top, copyright www.calendarsfromindia.com