Invasion and domination of a land happen not only through militaristic interventions but also through lovable incursions. What changes while an alien force occupies a land is its coded language of exchange. This language is not just about the oral and the written linguistic forms, it also suggests all the coded/symbolic entities that make social life possible. Invading forces re-inscribe this system of language with the codes of subjection so that the existing populace would lose its control over its own systems of socio-cultural and politico-economic exchanges. When it comes to love, the incursions and inscriptions take a different form. It displaces the existing codes through the introduction of a set of different codes of acceptance.
Individual life spent in isolation is a language that has its own language; it organizes itself through order and chaos. The order that one sees in an individual’s life perhaps does not have much to do with the social order in general. The chaos that one witnesses in an individual’s life also cannot be a generic chaos. The linguistic confusion that we see in a free individual’s life is peculiar and it has a studied nature which others do not able to understand. It could be likened to the sense of order that a blind man keeps in his living environs. When the free individual gets married or gets connected to a larger society, this studied chaos gets rearticulated in a different fashion. Thanks to compulsions of an alien presence (it could be wife/partner and children), one finds his/her things get displaced within his/her dwelling premises.
In the series ‘Missing Interiors’, Deepak John Mathew captures the sites of such displacements that have happened to his life over a period of time. As children come to his life, they occupy his space and place and the sense of order that he had created when he was a free individual/bachelor. Children place their toys and dolls where the artist used to keep his books and equipment. Each inch of his house gets re-inscribed by the children’s presence. They become the active agents of this inscription that fundamentally changes anybody’s life.
In ‘Missing Interiors’ Deepak moves from the quotidian and the generic to the larger implications of invasions and displacement. The apparently innocent images of his home interiors become emblematic of the zones where political and militaristic incursions happen in our times. Friendly presence of hospitals and public amnesties could also be symbolic of the arrival of multi-national corporations that want to exploit the lands of the native. Hence, Missing Interiors achieves a political meaning that oversteps the apparent innocence and joviality seen in the pictures.
– Johny ML
Dr. Deepak John Mathew is a Design Teacher, professional photographer, illustrator and painter working in India. Mathew has a PhD in Design Education and post graduate degree in graphics. He has experience spanning over 20 years in professional photography, painting and graphics. He has received many awards and exhibited his work in many international and national exhibitions. His interests include history of art, colour and form, illustration, printmaking and painting apart from photography. He currently teaches at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad.