Saini Kallat, Reena b.1973 / Synonym (man)
about this work
Renna Saini Kallat's portrait series Synonym (2007-9) depicts anonymous Indian citizens. The portraits are pieced together from rubber stamps painted in different colors, together composing what looks like a passport photo.
The artwork is presented as a screen, holding up portraits that are formed by several hundred names of people rendered in scripts from 14 Indian languages. From a distance they come together as portraits, but as a close-up they almost seem like a circuit-board of rubber stamps. The rubber stamps are made with names of those officially registered as having gone missing across India, through natural calamities such as landslides, floods, earthquakes; or gone missing during riots or large scale mishaps; names of those abducted or absconding, with the police still trying to ascertain their whereabouts. These are people who seem to have slipped out of the radar of human communication, thrown off the social safety net. The portrait of a sub-continental citizen is formed by numerous such names; the back of the portrait appearing like a sea of invisible identities, a bird’s eye view of a large human congregation. 
In Kallat's work the individual fate is a fragment of a whole that appears ghostlike and mute. An almost transparent portrait of a collective loss of memory. Memory is altogether a key word in Reena Saini Kallat's art. She creates monuments to past times, moments, and people - to places and people we cannot go back to, and that are now wavering before our gaze while the passing of time erodes the memories little by little.

Reena Saini Kallat (b.1973, India)

Synonym (man), 2007-2009

Painted rubberstamps on acrylic
183 x 122 cm
72 1/16 x 48 1/16 in.
Nature Morte Gallery, New Delhi, India Current Location:
UK - London - G4Si SculptureSouth Asia


Labyrinth of Absences
Gallery Nature Morte, New Delhi, India
March 2011

Arndt Gallery Booth
FIAC Art Fair, Paris, France
October 2008

Arndt Gallery Booth
Frieze Art Fair, London, UK
October 2008

related works / Reena Saini Kalla... / South Asia / Sculpture