Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

  • Sahej Rahal
    born 1988
    active: India
  • Adversary, 2013
  • Where object was made: Mumbai, India
  • single-channel video, 10 minutes 42 seconds
  • Courtesy of the artist and Chatterjee & Lal Gallery, Mumbai, India
  • Not on display
  • EL2016.013
  • Loan: Not in the Spencer's collection
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
"Temporal Turn: Art and Speculation in Contemporary Asia", 11-Nov-2016
Sahej Rahal’s art exists in an ever-expanding universe populated by elaborate incarnations of his personal mythology. In Adversary, a cast of enchanted characters oscillates against a shifting array of diverse settings. The first scene is set in the ruins of Vasai Fort, also known as Fort Bassein, located near Mumbai. In recent years, the fort has emerged as an important symbol for Indian nationalistic rhetoric as a site where foreign invaders where once defeated. Adversary then transitions to the movie studios of Cinecittà in Rome, an imitation of Roman imperial architecture that was created in 1937 under the patronage of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. From Rome, Adversary transports the viewer to the ethereal Rock Garden of Chandigarh, a sprawling, curvaceous garden retreat created in secret by self-taught artist Nek Chand (1924–2015) in the capital of the northern Indian state of Punjab. As Adversary enters its final chapter, a small group of individuals covered in makeshift assemblages of everyday objects congregate in the picturesque forests of Shōdoshima off the coast of Japan. The work’s title and the recurring theme of an imagined empire populated with unaware citizens represent Rahal’s skewed critique of increasing right-wing nationalism in India.