SUKI FALKNER is an artist who has had past careers in teaching, film, and psychoanalytic child therapy. Her art training began in the nineties.
A formative experience for her as a young woman was working as a CUSO volunteer teacher in a Ghandian ashram, named Vikas Vidyalaya , in Saurashtra, India, an institution devoted to the uplift of women and children. The early sixties were still the young days of India's independence, and its magnificent heroes seemed close at hand. The Central government under Nehru, as well as those at the State and panchayat levels, were trying to effect huge social changes for the betterment of the people. All this made a deep impression. Since then the artist has returned many times, noting changes (or sometimes sameness). Nowadays India has become a technological giant and a world commercial power. It seems to the artist, however, (and this despite the risks of essentialist arguments), that the heart of India has retained its capacity for connection and intimate engagement.
In 2008, she decided on yet another trip to India, this time specifically to look at art production including contemporary , ancient ,and folk traditions. To this end, her itinerary included Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Vadovara, as well as Orissa, and Kutch. Tentatively, she began to take photographs. She was conscious of the danger of an outsider, even an attached outsider, imposing her foreign gaze. She tried to stay close to the concrete.
The resulting photographs form the basis of the present exhibition.They have been laboriously photo-transferred, forced to drop their ink into encaustic-coated squares. It seemed to the artist that the wax, in an appropriate way, received her images imperfectly and gently. The resultant squares, with their images, were then built up, brick-like. Forms, consisting of incomplete or disrupted grids, geometric and abstract, emerged . The disorder of these shapes challenges the rationality traditionally associated in artistic discourse with the grid. Such rigidity would be alien to the artist's subjects. Monochromatic squares within the shapes allow the viewer's eye to follow a colour, constructing a whole rather than scrutinizing a collection of representational detail.
But the detail, detail of India, is there, concrete and categorized and partial, drawing the attentive gaze. Post-modern discourse has posited "the gaze" as a concept of social and power relations, signifying in various contexts its voyeuristic ability to impose a social construct in place of the Other's identity. More recent psychoanalytic theorizing however has explored the viewer's ability to be positioned "beside" the object, to view it empathically and to view its past and present contexts with understanding. This indeed was the felt experience of the artist and her invitation here is to do the same.
So the pieces are both abstractions and representations. They present a narrative of an engaged journey, shaped by both an attentive interest in the immediate, and a long investigation of memory and history.