January2012, by Emily Hall, Art Forum
The overwhelming experience of looking at Yamini Nayarâs photographs is that of mystification: One can look and still be puzzled. The photographs invite us to view them as representations of three-dimensional space, but they complicate or even do away with the tools we use, largely without realising it, for interpreting volume: perspective, vanishing point, background, and foreground. It is difficult to describe, much less understand, what one sees.
To create these beguiling images, Nayar built ephemeral sculptural tableaux from little bits of this and that, paper, foil and string, and other kinds of detritus less to say to identify, and photographed them from different angles, and in slightly different configurations. In Cascading Attica (All works 2011) a panel, mostly rectangular, of smoky gray interrupts swaths of rich blue that swirl down from collaged photographs of windows. The blue regions are clearly composed of three dimensional materials: aqua pieces of broken-up something (wood, chalk, or clay) and painted and modeled ridges of deeper blue. The gray panel, by contrast, looks flat- it is a semi translucent, reflective foil â though one area interposes itself in front of the blue and elsewhere disappears behind it. Imagining what this might have looked like on a table top is nearly impossible.
A small untitled work from a series called âHousing Studiesâ dislocates our sense of space by placing an encrusted grid in front of some pink and gold bits.
YAMINI NAYAR: ARTIST TO WATCH
The Art Economist
Nayar is a Brooklyn-based artist of Indian descent. Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1975, she received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1999 and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts (2005). Though her work is most easily recognised as photography. The artists large scale photo prints are the evidentiary product of intensive sculptural installations that she manufactures in her studio; once she has created these environments, she then documents and dissembles them.
The result speaks as much to the power of the constructed moment as it does to any real physical presence. Nayar often builds her interior landscapes and vistas from a combination of found and repurposed materials.
Her constructions are significant for their formal complexity and minute attention to details, as well as their ability to transmute abstracted installation into surreal landscape. The result is something between the ramshackle and the surreal. They have been classified as both romantic and apocalyptic, and are widely recognized for their hypnotic, dreamlike quality. Though her images usually suggest the interiors of abandoned buildings, their perspective frequently is disorienting, creating a sense of place that is both familiar and alien.
The Art Economist
YAMINI NAYAR: HEAD SPACE
Jan 2012, by Meenakshi Thirukode, Whitewall
If there could be an ideal negotiation and interaction between spaces constructed in photography and the space of its contextualization it is temporarily rendered so through âHead Space,â the recent solo show of artist Yamini Nayar at Thomas Erben Gallery last month. Usually one looks for a dialogue purely between the works installed, and the gallery space is often times regarded as a space lacking, neutral, and one that requires to be in a state of meaningless absence because the works hold that lofty responsibility of being negotiated by the viewer. In Nayarâs process and practice thereâs an interesting reconciliation between these polarities.
The artistâs work through the years has been a means of building and creating structures from found objects, photographing them and then discarding the physical installation. We never get to see the actual constructions, although in âHead Spaceâ photographic documentation of source material is installed. It serves as a visual map of sorts - a legend - trying to fix on important points within Nayarâs process. In early works like Cleo (2009) and Between the Lines (2009) we see these surreal structures or renderings of fantasy like spaces. They seem impermanent, fluid but they are still recognizable from within the spectrum of reality. In Cleo, for instance, one can discern some kind of indoor space with its floorboards and walls violently smashed through. But the odd pinhole, through which an eye peeks in, displaces ones sense of spatial footing in reality. Itâs this displacement that comes to fruit in the body of works in âHead Space.â Now space has literally and metaphorically been sculpted, by deliberating through historical references within architecture and the shifting meanings of our experiences with these man-made edifices. Nayar explains, âI begin with a 2D image, which acts as a quote in a longer process.â References in the works include well-known buildings like Frank Lloyd Wrightâs Johnson Wax building, referred to as the Great Workroom, to generic spaces like a mid-century living room. None of these are immediately recognizable now, not in the way one could navigate Nayarâs early works. Now these constructions that we engage our motions through have been magnified, broken down, and re-stitched so that standing in front of them in a gallery space, thrusts you into polar states of physical and semantic experiences. Says Nayar, âMy concerns lean towards subjectivity and memory - and thus my photographs are less tied to being read as 'real.' I'm much more interested in process, and how we shape memory, how it shapes us." Memorious (2011) navigates through such a space. Within the 4 x 5 foot format that Nayar predominantly works in, you are privy in some way to the process even while looking at the finished piece. This is so because the final print was arrived at by the layering of fragments of previous photographs made in the same space that were documented at different times, throwing glimpses of various interventions that had taken place there and now no longer exist. âI think of it as physically adding or slicing parts of the structure back into the photographic document. A physical expansion of what is seen and remembered, but also a kind of rupture in time. The piece is called âMemorious,â which means to have good memory,â explains the artist.
November 21, 2011, The New Yorker
Nayarâs colour photographs may look like boisterous abstractions, but (with the exception of one collage) theyâre straightforward shots of small environments that she cobbled together from fabric, clay and scraps of paper to suggest architectural interiors and structures in states of decay. Thanks to the addition of feathers, beads, yarn and silver foil, spaces that may have started out as scaled-model buildings now look as if they were abandoned to vandals, visionary squatters or natural forces. Yet, no matter how trashed Nayarâs sites may appear (some recall the aftermath of Japanâs recent tsunami) you sense that any implied disaster is mitigated by the promise of transformation and renewal.
The New Yorker
SOUTH ASIAN AMERICAN ART NOW
By Kiran Chandra
Picasso painted Le Demoiselle d Avignon after seeing an exhibit of African Masks and sculptures at the MOMA. Paul Gauguin's life's works come from Tahiti, where he retreated to after his giving up his profession as a stockbroker. Cultures outside their own have often inspired artists to push the boundaries of their work.
It is equally engaging see a culture that is known and familiar (by heritage, or place of birth) to artists, re-interpreted, contended with, and assimilated into new contexts. Nostalgia, yearnings for that elusive place called home and the immigrant experience in itself becomes the basis for their art.
This is the nerve that the curators at the Queens Museum have touched with their phenomenal exhibition called "Fatal Love- South Asian American Art Now." The exhibition follows "Crossing the lines" (also featured at the Queens Museum) in 2001, in which artists were asked to create pieces that focused on their particular communities. The museum takes its responsibility to represent the ethnically diverse community that inhabits New York seriously. It makes a fitting venue, therefore, for "Fatal Love," which is dedicated solely to the creative and cultural engagements of first and second generation American artists of South-Asian descent.
The "Fatal Love" exhibit has been installed in conjunction with the Asia Society's "Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India." "Fatal Love", stands with and apart from its Indian counterpart at the Asia Society. It speaks directly to the question of what it is to be a part of a diaspora. In particular, the diaspora's reaction to 9/11 and the treatment of immigrants in New York is raw and deeply felt. felt A mult- media installation by Naeem Mohaiemen and Ibrahim Quarishi called "Disappeared in America" documents the ugly and often brutal repercussions of 9/11 on Muslims through a series of banners, stickers, video pieces and sound bites. Specifically, it speaks to the victims whose absences went almost unnoticed- taxi drivers, small business owners - the very immigrants struggling the most to build a life in America.
YAMINI NAYAR - INTIMATE THEATER: A SOLILOQUY OF DISLOCATIONS
Wynwood, The Art Magazine, April 2009
SHEELA GOWDA & YAMINI NAYAR - NEW YORK TIMES
The New York Times, May 8th 2009
YAMINI NAYAR - THE NEW YORKER
The New Yorker, May 4th 2009