‘Migration and Extended Journeys’ | West Bengal, India
Mixed-media artist Baishakhi Mehatori shares her recent work exploring patterns of human behavior connected to deep emotional states arising from surroundings and circumstances. Engaging themes from the plight of refugees and migration to pandemic realities, she amplifies our awareness, taking us step-by-step across the terrain.
I have always been inspired by aspects of human behavior which I try to explore in my work. Often human behavior reveals a deeper emotional state of mind and reflects a person’s interaction with his or her surroundings and circumstances over a period of time and space. I am interested in going beyond depicting a momentary reaction and aim to create a symbolic metaphor for the extended journey of a person’s life.
I have tried to explore people’s reactions to the current pandemic situation, that everyone has been suddenly thrust into. Circumstances of migrant workers have captured our imagination for a long time, seeing scores of people walking back home from their places of work. Capturing a single moment of that walk can symbolize a nationwide movement and embody the existence and social circumstances of the journey of life, constantly moving towards a destination. People have historically moved and migrated in groups in search of work, better living conditions, etc.
Today, migration has become a very political term in popular discourse. Human migration in large numbers is mainly discussed either in the context of daily wage labourers or refugees. However, there is not much talk about urban migration. Generally speaking, migration or movement is a human condition. Being an urban migrant, I understand the duality of the sense of place that migration (especially for work) implicitly entails. The sense of place works on many levels. The impression of home (a place of safety and familiarity) gets reflected in other spaces, but at the same time is controlled and manipulated by external factors.
Migration as a symbol of the journey of a person’s life and circumstances, has become a central theme of investigation in my work. I depict this journey through moments and steps reflecting the desire for home. Every day we set a new target to bring us one step closer.
In this journey of life, we assess ourselves with each step. Sometimes we are successful in such assessments, and sometimes we are not. Often, when we come across a new idea or thought, we try to mold ourselves accordingly. I have used patterns as metaphors for those ideas and thoughts. We do not know if we will be successful, but we still carry on. To fit ourselves with the mold or to adhere to circumstances that are often imposed, we continuously shape ourselves.
In exploring people’s reaction to the current pandemic situation, I try to express my own experiences and their relationship to conditions in the outside world. Since the onset of the covid pandemic, everyone has had to adjust to a new way of life. Many things that were part of our normal lives became restricted overnight. I aim to portray the experiences of adjusting to this new situation. The whole process of work acquired new forms all over the world.
I depict a moment. Through that moment I try to depict a larger journey and the interplay of factors that create that moment.
Click here to see Baishakhi's complete series, 'Time, Space and Life Journeys'
ABOUT THE ARTIST
I was born in1992 in Birbhum district in West Bengal. I completed my BFA and MFA degree in painting in 2014 and 2016 from Kala Bhavana, Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal. I received Merit Certificates in painting. My artworks have been exhibited throughout India and abroad and I have participated in national and international art workshops.