‘Liminal Gaps’ at Mumbai’s NMACC plays with history and time

Group show ‘Liminal Gaps’ at Mumbai’s NMACC explores different artist’s idea of liminality, curated by Triadic

art exhibition
Ayesha Singh, “Hybrid Drawings,” 2023. Courtesy of Art House, NMACC
(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

To be in your youth is to be fresh, cool, contemporary, courageous, and conspicuous, at the precipice of something. ‘Liminal Gaps’ at the NMACC in Mumbai is a youthful show. It awakens a quality of restless potential from one floor to another, embodying a different artist’s idea of liminality as they invite you to join them at their threshold, and in that, discover your own. Curated by the dynamic creative house, Triadic, in its signature expansive approach, the show makes something incredible of space at NMACC’s Art House, while taking it up with a thoughtful impunity.

As Roya Sachs, creative director of Triadic, says, ‘We are always inspired by the idea of how we can bridge disciplines – performance, sculpture, digital, multimedia – and take risks. That is where the magic happens‘.

‘Liminal Gaps’ at NMACC, Mumbai

art exhibition

Raqs Media Collective and Frith Street Gallery, “Escapement.” Courtesy of Art House, NMACC 

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

Intentionally breaking from the sterile, white gallery box that defines and often confines, Triadic is all about the temporal and the tangible. ‘We want people to occupy art, find joy and delight, and leave feeling something,‘ add Elizabeth Edelman Sachs, producer at Triadic. This is very evident right from the time one begins traversing the show – with Ayesha Singh’s Hybrid Drawings. A white room is cut by black lines, converging at ‘vanishing points’ typical of a two-point-perspective drawing. The lines form arches, windows, frames, openings, pathways, divisions, directions, taking from the geometry of Islamic, Hindu, Sikh, and Victorian architecture of Delhi, where Ayesha grew up.

art exhibition

Asim Waqif, “Chaal”, 2024. Courtesy of Art House, NMACC

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

The Raqs Media Collective (established in 1992) presents five works that are meditations on time. The underbelly connecting each floor is enveloped by a mural: a cobalt blue background with and expressions like ‘hit a raw nerve’, ‘nerves of steel’, ‘you have some nerve’ alongside drawings of neurons (nerve cells). One is welcomed on the next floor with Chromacron, where stripes of Pantone colours of the years 2000-2024 line up in chronological order, leading to the installation entitled Escapement. A collection of 27 seemingly identical clocks are marked with moods and emotions – remorse, awe, fear, epiphany – instead of numbers/hours. Another giant clock’s digits are replaced by words in the Devanagari script (used to write Sanskrit, Prākrit, Hindi, Marathi, and Nepali) that take on literal and symbolic meanings; shran (second), pran (life), atithi (guest), ritu (season), to name a few. At the ‘blank’ centre of the space sits ‘Betaal’, an augmented reality that can be seen using iPads, perceived by Raqs as an entity that moves in the liminal gap between time and consciousness.

On the third floor, Asim Waqif’s Chaal takes on an ecological and anthropological approach to liminality. Thirty skilled artisan-craftsman-labourers collaborated to make a structure in bamboo with little to no prescription in terms of drawings, sketches and models. The lights, sounds, coves, and experiential nooks enmeshed in the structure invite the viewer to inhabit and find the many meanings of the word chaal: tempo, impulse, trick/move and gait/movement.

At the topmost floor is the final chapter, a fantastical multimedia story that serves as a world-building interactive experience. Afra Shafiq’s Sultana’s Reality (2017) draws from Begum Rokheya Sakhawat Hossain’s feminist utopia entitled Sultana’s Dream (1905) a story of the reversed ‘purdah’ – the seclusion of women – in a world run by women. You are led into a literal black box, lit by neon green grid lines, a few seats facing an LCD screen. This digital liminal space comes to life in a computer game depicting lives of women at different time periods in the subcontinent. The multimedia story traces women and colonial education movement in India using archival imagery, humour, contemporary culture, and historical nuggets. Time has no purpose in Sultana’s Reality.

‘We were very intentional in picking a combination of established and emerging Indian artists, giving both the same expanse of space. This allows us to embrace play and encourage spontaneity with the art and the audience, a tenet crucial to our work.’

‘Liminal Gaps’ is on now at NMACC, Mumbai, until 9 June 2024, nmacc.com

Aastha D. (she/they) is an independent scholar, essayist, and educator. They have degrees in architecture and its critical, curatorial, and conceptual practices. She founded the magazine Proseterity, and is also managing editor of the working group Insurgent Domesticities at the Center for the Study of Social Difference (CSSD) of Columbia University