Interference Fringe / Tallur L.N.

Tallur L.N. is a conceptual artist whose practice explores the ironic ways in which people
navigate a world rife with competing anxieties, desires, and fears. This exhibition opens at
a time when society often feels at odds with itself, and reality or truth can sometimes seem
arbitrary. Filled with 27 works created in a wide range of media, interactive sculptures
and site-specific installations that extract witty wordplay from our contradictions and
follies, this sensorial body of work beckons us to mine the more paradoxical parts of life.
As we pursue acts that are at once sacred and secular, meaningful and futile, creative
and destructive, Tallur reminds us to look critically at the forces of history, globalization,
and capitalism that condition both our values and collective memories.

Born in 1971, Tallur resides and manages studios in his coastal village in Koteshwara,
Karnataka, India and the industrial city of Daegu, South Korea. Over the last two decades, he
has established himself as one of India’s most prolific and innovative sculptors. His works
reference ancient and popular icons, myths, and symbols, yet Tallur subverts their easy
categorization by exposing the universal humor and parody in our relationships to objects
across cultures. An artist with a strong background in museology and deep knowledge of
materials and conservation techniques, Tallur is known for making works that allude to their
eventual decay or transformation, despite our best attempts to preserve them. His works
remind us that what we value is always in physical and psychological flux.
By mixing artifacts, bronze, coins, concrete, kitsch, machines, oil, silver, stone, and wood,
Tallur layers and builds monumental pieces that use artifice and obstruction to critique
the power structures and strategies of institutional display. Grounds For Sculpture is
thrilled to support Tallur’s latest playful and affective interventions through this timely
exploration that continues his artistic journey of questioning tensions between our past,
present, and future.

Curated by
Gary Garrido Schneider, Executive Director
Ami Mehta, Associate Curator

Scaffolding Symbols

Industrial and utilitarian scaffolding is stacked with the sculptures for which, Tallur
is most recognized. Several of these works incorporate, or make reference to,
iconography almost inseparable from the idea of India in the popular imagination.
The scaffold interferes with our ability to look at a single sculpture and upends typical
standards of museum display. Its architecture challenges us with obstructed views
and partial access that both assemble and disperse the works for us to navigate in no
particular order. This intervention tempts us to climb upstairs to an observation deck
and take in multiple vantage points, but simultaneously prevents us from getting too
close to the objects. Much like the works it holds, this clever staging device deliberately
makes it difficult to decipher the symbols and metaphors that many of the sculptures
allude to and subvert.

Anxieties, Desires, and Fears

Tallur is fascinated by the anxieties, desires, and fears that objects can stimulate in
us. As an instrument that drives both purchasing power and financial panics, currency
frequently appears in the artist’s works to illustrate our obsession with it. While coins
are often bathed or touched in water or milk during religious prayers for prosperity in
India, Tallur embeds them into a pile of cement that resembles dung in Victory Pillar,
nearly burying a bronze statue with hints of the “Goddess of Fortune,” behind the
weight of an abundant plate.
Squeeze through the caged bars of the installation, Apocalypse, and visitors can
polish a dime or quarter until its denomination is erased. Follow his clever instructions
to “civilize” or “clean” money, and it will become certifiably worthless. With nations
carefully controlling their vaulted mints, Tallur fashions an alternative and defunct
authority to regulate our competitive rat-race aspirations.
Chromatophobia, a large stone installation of a Budai (“Buddha of Wealth”) with a
giant log atop its head, prompts visitors to make a wish and hammer a coin into the
crevices of the wood that crushes it. The artist insists that if money is “the root of all
evil,” this awkwardly therapeutic ritual will cure of us of our “abnormal and persistent
fear” of it.

Double Take: Manipulating Form, Materials, and Process
Is it manmade or machine-made, artificial or natural, old or new? Tallur manipulates
form, materials, and process to catch our attention in the sculptures on view here.
0+0=0-0, Alzheimer’s, and Milled History, are based on figural representations
gathered from Indian iconography. Through a blend of digital, industrial, and organic
techniques, the artist renders their seemingly authentic and familiar appearances in
manners both fake and frightening to encourage a double take. Tallur incorporates
elements of carpentry, stone carving, and metalwork into his practice, regularly
collaborating with skilled artisans and craftsmen to fabricate his works.
In Milled History, the artist let termites feed on a wooden copy of a temple figurine,
then digitally scanned the resulting degraded figure and ultimately milled a distorted
replica in sandstone that mimics the wood grains of its original state. Tallur similarly
used white ants in Alzheimer’s to corrode parts of an object manufactured for spiritual protection and disguised it as a distressed antique. The artist relates everyday
acts of consumption and digestion to the gradual effacement and loss of culture and
religion, highlighting how objects can be displaced and imitated to suit preferred versions of history and politics. These pointless feats hint at the damage and violence
that humankind is capable of inflicting upon its own collective memory and forgetting
over time.

Vulnerability of Value
Tallur’s sculptures comment on how cultural, economic, and spiritual values can be
commodified by contemporary society. His works incorporate relics and statues that
impart notions of greatness, uphold civil and democratic ideals, and are immortalized in
national memorials and monuments, touristy mementos, and kitsch alike. Tallur subjects
cheap reproductions of these icons of freedom and immigration to the mechanical
destruction inherent in their mass production. He provokes audiences to consider how
objects and symbols can be leveraged to peddle edited or manufactured versions of
Recalling the novelty of a penny press machine, in which one pays to hand crank an
embossed and elongated souvenir coin, Enlightenment Machine invites visitors to
reshape and refine a trinket of the Statue of Liberty by pedaling a grinding apparatus.
This contraption puts our eternal quest for progress to test by converting our labor
into a futile and violent exercise, laced with false anticipation and hope.
Tallur encourages viewers to think about negative space in Eraser Pro and Iron Age,
where solid bronze likenesses of Mahatma Gandhi are burnished with holes that question
the one-dimensionality of this leader in mainstream narratives. In a post-truth age with
increasing political divisiveness, the artist asks what is lost at the expense of what
is preserved? By luring visitors to participate in contradictory acts of re-creation and
erasure, Tallur parodies the ways that fanaticism is complicit in the dissolution of heritage.

This slow-motion video captures the manual cleaning of a rug originally
installed at a palace in Junagagh. The ornate textile with its geometric floral pattern
was initially produced in the late 1800s by inmates imprisoned for their role as freedom fighters in the struggle for independence from colonial Great Britain. A surprising amount of dust is exhumed in this beating process creating billowing smoke-like
plumes that envelop the scene, the laborers, and this cultural artifact.
The work alludes to the sediment of time and a release of that which is embedded
underneath the surface of our dominant narrative. The sound is slightly off register
with the action creating an echoing effect not unlike that of mortars discharging in
the distance while the image of the dust clouds calls to mind a city under aerial
l bombardment (carpet bombing). This act of cleaning or cleansing creates an
association to the violent and destructive conflicts in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan,
and Syria.
Interference was made in partnership with the Junagagh Museum in Gujarat, India.
Special thanks to the Junagadh Museum; Varia Kiran, Videography ; Vandita Jain,
sound engineer; and Bhanu Pratap Sing.