about ‘Rites of Passage...’


RITES OF PASSAGE AND THE LOSS OF CONTEXT --Looking at some Forms of Alienation : is new work in progress towards a series within the following conceptual framework -

Rites of passage are initiation rites, customs, practices that ease the transition of a person from one stage of being into another within the society. They inform him of his new identity and signal his acceptance, inclusion and integration into the new scheme of things.  They mark milestones in a changing course of an age and acknowledge a new phase of existence so that a person is inducted into this transformation without disorientation.

These rites will be seriously pursued only if the transformations being effected have the people in focus. That is to say, if the individual, his life and his aspirations are the aim of the transformations. However, if the changes being wrought have an altogether different motive; where the individual or even the community is immaterial to the ultimate design and is, in fact, only a commodity to be manipulated for one goal - that of maximizing extraction - then be it from people, communities, nations or all of nature and the earth itself, then, in such a phase, the rites of passage become immaterial, unnecessary and expendable.

Communities and people are left to their own devises to either adjust to the new firman or drop off the map, become redundant or perish. As the Juggernaut rolls on, individuals are faced with the specter of disorientation, insecurity and a total loss of belonging. Howsoever they may attempt to cling to heretofore sacrosanct value systems, cultural frameworks and world views, all these are ripped asunder in the tumult that envelops us. Where personal space cannot be insulated and no individual has a choice to opt out.

Within this churning then, comes not only a bleak promise of of an emerging and baffling world order but also a looming prospect of atavistic tendencies that at once take us to great leaps in technologies coupling with an almost dehumanizing reversal of all that signified human progress and civilization.

How do we react to this? ‘The Rites of Passage and the Loss of Context’ is an attempt to understand some facets of this loss. To record and reflect the anxiety and bewilderment at this sudden forfeiture of context. To explore the resultant alienation. Alienation not only from the transformed world but also often a sense of unease with the self, vexation at not being able to fit into the new schemata and hence a great disenchantment with self-image and self-worth - physical, material and social. The four figure works on paper form a subset on this theme expressing this latter thought namely, the divergence between reality and a socially dictated norm of the ‘ideal’ form to be aspired for as represented in media today. An ideal that demands unrealistic conformity to norms of beauty and self worth dependent almost solely on parameters of shape, size, colour, speech and even age.

Communities yet seek solace and meaning within themselves but, not left untouched by the winds of transformation, also impudently challenge existing power structures or try to seek out their place in the new dispensation. Within this newfound sense of freedom they often find that freedom holds significance only when there is bondage. Bondage not in its negative connotation but when it emphasizes bonds, attachment, community, commitment - be it to a person or a relationship, to family, society, to ideas and ideals or even to passions, ambitions, goals and aspirations.

These are the initial works in this series which attempt to explore the bonds and structures of coherence within a community when pitted against a vortex of transformations both external (social) as well as those that are private and personal.

                                                                                                                                                                                  © anjali purohit 2013