OCEAN OF RAIN

 
 

Ocean of Rain makes the case that the names Ganges and Ganga, even though often used interchangeably, refer to different realities, each articulated in a distinct moment of the hydrologic cycle. Ganges is a river and Ganga is rain. They are the basis of two places: India, a geographic surface drained by rivers; Sindhu, an ocean of rain. Each is the basis of a distinct language of design. The more one is pursued, the more it diverges from the other.


This is an exhibition in production. It began in 2013 with field trips to the Himalayas, Sundarbans, and Varanasi on the Ganges, and other journeys into the more extended world of Ganga. The latter has taken us to the Western Ghats in the monsoons, the far reaches of the Rajastan desert, and in the coming year will take us to the Tibetan Plateau. In the studio, we are involved in constructing Ganga on the ground of rain, the multiplicity of the raindrop, and the non-linear world of wetness.


 This 4-foot square piece—a study for Ocean of Rain—presents the people of Varanasi (Benares) as caught in the cracks of a geographic surface, forced to operate between the absolute divides of land and water and the relative gradients of sindhu, forced to negotiate for their survival between the map and the stain. James Prinsep, an employee of the English East India Company, pursued the first, drawing the map of the city in the 1820s. It preceded his pioneering effort to drain Varanasi to the adjoining Ganges, confining water in gutters, nallahs, and ultimately the river. His vision of a dry city is however, violated each year by rain and river. We pursue the stain. It begins another nature and infrastructure, one that holds, absorbs, intercepts, and celebrates wetness in a multitude of ways.

This 4-foot square piece—a study for Ocean of Rain—presents the people of Varanasi (Benares) as caught in the cracks of a geographic surface, forced to operate between the absolute divides of land and water and the relative gradients of sindhu, forced to negotiate for their survival between the map and the stain. James Prinsep, an employee of the English East India Company, pursued the first, drawing the map of the city in the 1820s. It preceded his pioneering effort to drain Varanasi to the adjoining Ganges, confining water in gutters, nallahs, and ultimately the river. His vision of a dry city is however, violated each year by rain and river. We pursue the stain. It begins another nature and infrastructure, one that holds, absorbs, intercepts, and celebrates wetness in a multitude of ways.

This piece is part of the exhibition COLLAPSE: CLIMATE, CITIES, CULTURE at the Gallatin Gallery, NYU, 1 Washington Square from June 12 to 29, 2018