The delineation of property is riddled with prepositions: that which belongs to and with something, is within and worth something, or is between and beyond something, and can be inside and concerning something or, it is underneath and since something. What one sees consistently then are boundaries and lines, signs and markers. The visual scape of this property is dependent on the formulation of these prepositions. One also sees these in suggestions, allusions, and stories. I may not always see all of these together.
The landscape unseen. I’ve been read to about nature for the last couple of weeks. Over the years I have tried to follow many somatic, pharmacologic, psychic rituals for my insomnia. The current ritual is of being read to. In a specious coincidence, the book I’m reading on my own and the book I’m being read to say similar things. I have been thinking more particularly about the notion of the landscape, as far away as possible from Ansel Adams’s monochromatic genius, and as close to the confines of my own urban-ness as possible.
Each day, on most working days, I pass by a large square structure. I look at it every time I walk or ride past it in an auto or a taxi, or on a scooter. Its layout of granite posts and lintels is both anachronistic and unsurprising. It appears to be an “open” space, flanked on all three sides by concrete buildings no more than a decade old and a busy main road on the fourth. It has the invisibility of abandonment. It is a communal pen for all the living and dead urban life around it. It is a cattle shed with ponderous cows and their dopey calves, with an occasional goat with kids. It is a storage cell for the local garage which piles up its metal carcasses, while the local bar lets small biryani and pork sellers offer its nightly line of customers something to hold those quarters and halves down. Early mornings are expectedly tranquil with the cows regurgitating their cud and late afternoons are spent over a game of marbles. It is a public space with its distinct routine amidst a ruin owned by two men whose painted names are fading on one of the lintels.
What I see is a skeleton, its flesh and blood, muscle, and matter dried, eaten, nipped, scratched, washed, poached, baked, beaten, lashed, stoned, drilled, and dug into. It looks ready to collapse but that says more about my own anxiety than its reality. It will fall no sooner–and certainly not on its own–before a yellow CAT machine comes along. This strange vertical openness has been held up by these posts and lintels for a very long time, some say since Kempegowda went hunting in the neighbourhood. What I see then is what is left out in the open after the party is over. What I see perhaps is what is left out of the frame of the camera because no amount of distance or perspective seems to speak its story.