Surabhi Saraf’s Illuminen articulates her investigation into sensory overload and its impact on the construction of meaning in a contemporary society that operates at varying paces. Using photography, film and sound to create montages, she digitally manipulates them by juxtaposing images and actions alongside one another and subtly altering them through a remapping of time.
Peel is the earliest work on display in the debut solo exhibition of the artist at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke. Multiple frames show Saraf in the simple act of chopping vegetables and cooking. Moments of domesticity are imbued with colour, synchronicity and elegance: when she lifts her hand to tuck a wayward strand of hair, like a poetic Mexican wave flitting across the screen one watches mesmerized as a moment is stretched in time. Peel established subconsciously, a lot of what would follow in Saraf’s later works. Sound primarily binds them all, but Peel is where performance, the visual multiples, and rhythmic movement came in, pared down to spare images, edited meticulously, colour playing an adjunct – this in many ways became the theatrical backdrop for further experimentation.
In another room of the gallery, Saraf’s video projection Fold spans a large wall. Taking off from Peel, the juxtaposed frames showing Saraf folding items of clothing are displayed in an 8 x 12 foot grid. In the 96 split visual frames one encounters in this high-definition single channel video, visual scores define the flow, the pattern and the structure of the composition. The result is a lyrical, choreographed piece of a banal action in iteration being played out beyond its domestic confines. It assumes a responsibility of structured time being used to harness form. Here the ephemeral is caught in simple actions and transformed into more than the sum of its parts – in the gallery the eyes move rhythmically with her humming, you know nothing much is going to happen, yet you can’t look away.
Born 1983 in Indore, Surabhi Saraf holds a BFA in Painting from the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda, and an MFA in Art and Technology from the SAIC, Chicago. Her work PEEL is Winner of the Celeste Prize (2009), Italy. In 2012 she received the Djerassi Resident Artist award for a month long residency in Woodside, CA. Her collaborative works have been presented at the NETMAGE 10 International Live Media Festival, Bologna, Italy (2010) with Nadav Assor, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2012) with Sebastian Alvarez. Surabhi's videos have been shown at the Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Vojvodina, Serbia. In October 2014 a solo exhibition of new works will be presented by Hosfelt Gallery in San Francisco. The artist lives and works in San Francisco.