Our March laurel goes to Madhvi Subrahmanian for ceramic objects that offer ritual release for the mental restlessness accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pandemic Pills was shown in Singapore Ceramics Now 20 January to 13 February 2021. Madhvi Subrahmanian explains the work:
2020 has been a year like no other. Never before has almost everyone on the planet experienced similar emotions at the same time. The virus brought the world to a grinding halt and people cycled through the seven stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, anxiety, bargain, acceptance and empowerment. As the reality of the on-going pandemic took hold, people began to come to terms with the “new normal”; some started using the altered pace to reflect on what was important in their lives.
One year on, the pandemic is still raging. The world is united in its rush towards a vaccine. Is it only the virus we are trying to protect ourselves from? Could there be a way to rid us of the worry, anxiety, and anger that were heightened in the past year? Is there a medical solution to boost ourselves so we can experience only positive emotions such as joy, hope, and gratitude? Can one actually feel a positive emotion without having experienced the negative? Or are the myriad emotions that continuously flow one into the other what defines us as being human?
Pandemic Pills is a participatory installation. The larger than life-size clay pills become time capsules that hold the emotions etched onto them forever. The audience is invited to roll each pill in the pillbox on a fine bed of sand. Each turn of the pill invites viewers to slow down and reflect on a variety of emotions from uncertainty and disbelief to happiness and hope that they may have experienced in the past year.
This work was recently shown at Singapore Ceramics Now 2021. Watching people touch the pills, feel them, roll them gently, I realized there was something so satisfying in seeing the object perform and speak for itself. Slowing down and taking time to interact with the work allowed the participant to partner with me and complete the work creating new meanings themselves.
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