Thukral & Tagra

New Delhi, India

Phantom XI - B

As part of the Adolescere Domus series, for which Thukral and Tagra focus on the individual lives of a certain region of India. They have taken the work (first shown at Art Basel in 2007), adapting it from inanimate painting to animation for Sedition as the work Phantom XI - B (in motion) 2018. That by virtue of its mutation redresses a continent’s social and cultural movement, where one after another a new generation up and leave their street and state, in pursuit of loftier ambitions. Captured in the series as candid portraits of people leaving and returning like seasonally migrating birds.

Having previously conceived of the term Punjabi Baroque as the aesthetic undertone for India’s new middle classes, Thukral and Tagra have gathered their visual motifs as though contemporary ethnographers. Deliberately deconstructing the lives of their contemporaries, as they sought to understand what effect the social disconnect between siblings and parents has upon the nucleus of a family, and of its influence upon streets and cities. “One of the main themes of this body of works is about Punjabi’s who migrate to Canada and America, who want to fly abroad and resettle. And what they bring back is actually a new kind of aesthetic. Which you can see absorbed into the food, fashion, and their habitable spaces. And this effects and influences the architecture of new parts of India.” Such circumstances see this country as having to absorb new narratives that reflect the elasticity and energies of its modern population. “We grew up with the general acknowledgement that most Indians dream of leaving the country and moving abroad. Both our families come from the northern Indian state of Punjab, where the desire to immigrate has always been extremely common. After travelling to one of these countries, either for schooling or employment, Punjabi men often find themselves rather isolated and stick close to their own community.”

Phantom XI – B appears like a kitsch billboard, conjuring an extreme sense of modernity, as its portrait of an individual is representative of those seeking economic and social improvement. Beginning as a still image, closer to a photograph, Thukral & Tagra’s pink t-shirted turbaned man begins to engage in a routine of mildly amusing actions, that subtly and very effectively demonstrates his will to want to move from the moment, and more robustly away from his prescribed cultural destiny. Which as a notion has this artistic pairing aestheticise over the perishables. Which has the burgeoning middle-classes return from Stockholm or Sydney, to redesign their Gurgaon homes to resemble more European styled dwellings, with objects and new technologies. That allows them the luxury of being orthodox Indian while successfully surfing television channels for international culture and cuisine.


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