Pallas: It seems that one of the biggest anchors for you are your sketchbooks, so far you have eight of them, how long do you spend on one?
Radhika: It used to be one a year, but the busier I get the less I use them. They are my process, they are continuous. The page before marks the page after.
Pallas: Your exhibition in Oman recently finished, and now you are showing with Collectionair. So what’s next?
Radhika: I actually don’t know what’s coming next. It’s quite a relief because I feel that I am in a bit of a transition right now and it’s good to be in the studio without a show in mind. I’m actually thinking of developing ideas that come from miniature painting. Stones very often signify location, and are used to show that someone has been on a journey. It’s something I’ve been using and playing with for a long time, but I want to link that to old stories, I’ve been re using old pictures of family. In my sketchbooks there is a lot of figurative work but I haven’t always felt it was ok to show, like I have some kind of block there. I think part of me has these modernist values when it comes to the body, and I want to make spaces for the body, like a stage set, where a dancer could come and play between the layers.
“Stone” Oil on wood, 50x40cm, 2016.
Pallas: That reminds me of the work you did at the Ghetto Biennale in Haiti last year. Tell us about that.
Radhika: Yes, that was very positive work, it just happened naturally. It was in a site where a building came down from the earthquake in 2010, and what was left was a mosaic tile floor. So on this tile floor I built three walls, it was very impulsive. I used the same materials that were around, concrete blocks which didn’t have any paint, it was left very bare, with glass on top, so the broken glass was like security walls. A lot of my work is big enough that you can inhabit it, but it’s not so large that it doesn’t relate to the body. I work with that scale because I can reach it, so it has to do with my body, and I’ve thought a lot about dance, from Trisha Brown and Yvonne Rainer, all of these people, and The Mind is a Muscle, that I read and I thought a lot about how you know, gesture can be a fine object.
Pallas: That a gesture can be a fine object?
Radhika: Yes, I think that came from her text. So then I was there in Haiti staying in the same hotel with these artists and a dancing group. I got along very well with one of the dancers and we had the same idea about decolonization and colonization of space and the body, so I asked him if his group would like to use the space, because I had made this thing, and I needed bodies, and he got in and he really reacted to the space, and there was so much he could do. I don’t have a video, which is the biggest tragedy, because he was bouncing off the walls in the most amazing way. The walls were really quite defensive, they were aggressive, maybe they came from a place of me not feeling completely safe.
Pallas: Safety! The idea of safety recurs often in your work.
Radhika: Yes, safety! My work at the Marrakech Biennale this year was called Stay Safe. Also, my first parachute exhibition was called Safe Landings in Oman. Safely Standing, in Haiti, was in conjunction to that. Yes, it is often about safety for me.