ARTIST TALK: Neha Vedpathak with Taylor Aldridge

Of the Land

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ – Rudyard Kipling

Neha Vedpathak’s exhibition Of the Land, is a second installment in a series of on-going work about the city of Detroit. In this chapter Vedpathak dives deeper into the city both literally and metaphorically. Vedpathak pays attention, studies the spatial and social landscape. She grapples with city’s dichotomy as she confronts the ‘revitalized’ and the ‘forgotten’ parts of the city, both of which are real and personal to Vedpathak.

In 2017, Vedpathak began researching Detroit’s Demolition Program and learned that since 2014, the city has taken down more than 13000 vacant residential and commercial buildings in neighborhoods across the city with thousands more in the demolition pipeline. ‘Though this may be a necessary step towards the future progress of the city’ states Vedpathak, ‘my contention as an artist is that these structures were once homes to people and families, a place where memories and lives were made. And as such these vanishing structures, even in their dire state deserve to be documented before they are completely wiped out from the landscape and collective consciousness of the city’, Vedpathak continues, ‘with this in mind I began photographing buildings that were scheduled for demolition’. This direct interaction with the constructions and sites from across the city, gave Vedpathak an understanding of the form and physicality of these structures as well as an invaluable insight into the psyche of the city at this crucial point in its narrative. Vedpathak came across innumerable buildings that suggest passage of time via their peeling paint, weathered exterior and over-grown vines. These exposed layers of paint lend the neighborhoods its unique color palette — where the past, present and future collide in pigments. For Vedpathak, these soon to be forgotten buildings and structures tell a tale of its occupants, gives an impression of their life and challenges, together it creates an image that is fragmented, overwhelming and poignant.

For this body of work, Vedpathak’s interactions with architecture, serves as a tool for documentation and creates an access point for the artist to absorb the formidable urban landscape, to acknowledge its challenges, disparity and the spirit of its people of whom great deal is asked. The above excerpt from Rudyard Kipling’s poem If, summarizes Vedpathak’s emotional rationale and posture.

In 2009, Vedpathak developed her signature plucking technique, where she separates the fibers of the Japanese hand-made paper using a tiny pushpin. The resultant paper resembles a lace fabric, which the artist then uses to make individual works. Plucking is a slow, long, repetitive and sedulous process that yields plucked paper that’s delicate, yet strong. For Vedpathak labor that goes into making art is a form of meditation.

Of the Land will showcase twelve medium to large scale plucked works. These works invites the viewer to reflect on his/her own stance in this moment of transition.

Neha Vedpathak was born in India and received her five years graduate diploma in Painting from Abhinav Kala Maha Vidhyalaya located in Pune, India. Vedpathak is a multidisciplinary artist renowned for her inventive and original process-based practice. Vedpathak is a keen observer of her surroundings and has a deep connection to her materials. She has had featured exhibitions in the Czech Republic, India, Canada, France, Greece and the United States. Vedpathak has been an invited resident artist at Skopelos Foundation for the Arts (Greece), Bharat Bhavan Graphic Studio (India), Spiro Arts (Utah), Anderson Ranch Art Center (Colorado), and CAMAC (France) and Fountainhead Residency (Florida). Vedpathak currently lives and maintains a studio in Detroit, Michigan.

The exhibition will be on display at the N’Namdi Center from April 14, 2018 through June 9, 2018.