Rashid Rana’s work takes its title from the units that form an insect’s eye, the ommatidia, which individually provide picture elements for the brain to compose an image from. Rana uses digital images to similar effect in his Ommatidia series, where he takes some of the leading actors of contemporary Bollywood cinema, Hrithik Roshan, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan, and re-constructs their portraits from smaller individual elements. These renowned figures from contemporary cinema are the stable diet for millions of people in India, Pakistan and throughout the Indian subcontinent who almost religiously frequent the cinema and absorb the choreographed dance routines and songs that are the signature of every musical. Rana draws together hundreds of smaller crudely cut portraits of young Pakistani men; workers, attendants, shopkeepers, who appear haphazardly photographed by the artist, in order to compose a kaleidoscopic portrait of each of these actors.

The minute faces look in adulation at their idols. Rana suggests that these cinematic heroes are the invention of the viewing public, who invest their own imaginations and desires in the hyper-reality that make up the lives of these Indian superstars. The Ommatidia Series ultimately subverts and re-appropriates the concept of desire and fantasy world created in Indian film, while pointing out the complexity of attempting to fabricate a cultural narrative.

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