Abhishek Hazra applies the term “visual fable” to his practice. By borrowing formats of writing – journalistic, storytelling, marketing – he alludes to a narrative which he relates directly or indirectly to his images. The set of six images collectively titled Instability (2005) are joined by a narrative thread that is communicated by the individual images’ titles. The titles draw out potential narratives by making associations that would not otherwise be explicit.
Whilst each of the six panels making up ‘Instability’ also his its own title, Instability is also part of a larger group of works titled Some Fables on the Unstable Oscillation of Uniformity. This method of titling and re-titling betrays Hazra’s interest in contradiction and tautology. Through repeatedly layering realities and possibilities, he enters into a dialogue where he questions our assumptions about reality.
In Instability, a story unfolds through brightly coloured UV inks applied to aluminium composite panels. Dr Lily has organised a retreat for patients suffering from severe depression: “Dr Lily is worried about the bridge that they have to cross to get to the retreat / Will it be able to handle the weight of her patient’s depression?” Here, the cognitive processes of one of the characters is given a physical, tangible weight. This is thematic of much of Hazra’s work – a strong emphasis on thought, on perception, and on reasoning. The images this text refers to are highly developed digital creations, sometimes representational (a crumpled shirt and trousers), but often abstracted into twisting or geometric shapes. A spiralling ribbon is suggestive of a bridge, with streaming orange bubbles underneath, but might evoke no such associations without the image’s title.
One title shows Hazra’s multi-faceted response to subject matter: Psychographic Terrain or Urgh! Those Bloody Cookies (2006) represents both the playful and the intellectual. Here he refers to the passwords we must remember for internet sites, questioning this in the wider context of social control. A highly contrasted image of the moon sits behind a fleshy, strangely organic tubular mass with protruding eyes. Its message is much more complex than ‘we are being watched’, and is all the more compelling by not saying this directly. Hazra takes a subject from an oblique angle and weaves it into a fragmented narrative of his own creation.
Hazra was a participant in the Gasworks project Disclosures, which comprised of numerous events, residencies and commissions. The project culminated in a series of encounters in April 2008, providing a critical exploration of the legacies and potentials of open-source cultures both within media arts and visual arts practices.