Neverland Post Office
an uneasy art by Rajesh Deb
The pandemic despite being the most horrible thing that could have happened to humankind was not enough. People were dying, but that was not enough. People lost their loved ones, but that was not enough. Death was not enough to wake consciousness in humans. All forms of cruel-some injustices were happening even amidst a global human crisis. Daunte Wright, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were killed. Students in Delhi were beaten up for protesting. A not-so-new narrative of ghuspaithya kept playing in the mainstream media. Just look at our dear Putin, now. From west to east, north to south, acceptance is missing. Past horrors are not apologised for but new ones are getting etched in textbooks.
This crazy democracy, exploitation, abjectness and polarisation are depicted in Rajesh Deb’s art show “Neverland Post Office”. The show is an ensemble inspired by J M Barrie’s Neverland and Agha Shahid Ali’s 1997 book of poems, The Country Without a Post Office.
I visited Triveni Kala Sangam to view Urvi Sethna’s show, but unfortunately, it ended a day before. And fortunately, Rajesh Deb’s show was ongoing. The theme of the show Neverland Post Office was to view the world with hope, however, I felt discomposed, uneasy and trapped as soon as I saw his works.
I felt as if I am in a maze that has no escape. Just imagine the frenzy that Harry Potter felt when he first saw Voldemort in Deathly Hollows. That. That is exactly the kind of discomfort I was in.
Something was piercing through my heart, but it was not sharp. An acute pain. It’s a stone that will stay there forever making me feel heavy. I was sitting there in the middle of the gallery — crying. How is it that art sometimes makes you feel like everything around you is collapsing and even if you happen to survive this avalanche, it most definitely will not be unscathed?
Over the years, many have also considered Wendy (from Peter Pan) as a mother figure to Peter Pan. Speaking about how women are considered mother figures, Deb elaborates, “It is strange that this belief does not stop us from committing crimes against them.”
Whenever I feel like things are getting too much and I want to cry, I read a book, watch a movie or choose an outlet that will stir every emotion within and let me flow my heart out. However, I can connect and tap my emotions because I have the means to access those art forms. And art is not accessible to all.
People around the world are living lives that are insufferable and tiring. People need a form of expression to understand what is that they feel. Something that constricts their breath. Something that tells them that their harsh lives are not just their lived realities.
As the artist himself puts it, “Through this, I wanted to address the absurdity of the world we live in.”
Maybe Rajesh Deb’s art wasn’t as grim as I made it out to be. Maybe it was about resistance despite hopelessness. Maybe it was also about freedom despite entrapment. Whatever it was, you will have to decide for yourself.
If you happen to visit the show at Triveni Kala Sangam (end on 16th April), please read this. View all the art pieces, make your own opinion, reflect for a while and then read this in the gallery. A whole new perspective is waiting for you. But if in case, you are unable to view the show, a glimpse of his work is available on Artsy.