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Dev Dhunsi: Encircling Stories

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    © Dev Dhunsi

In Encircling Stories, these images, taken in movement over seven years of returning from Punjab to Goa, cutting across several regions of India over several days of train rides, something else emerges, as the relation of peasants to their land differs every time, provoking further deferral. Such relation is indirect and unsearched, equally revealing the complexity of a region where agriculture has been under threat to monoculture and dispossession yet again in recent times. Dhunsi’s originating search addressed instead something more grand and exotic, the longest factory in the world, which was the primary purpose of the ride, with complex unconscious references in terms of desire and constructed dependency over centuries of culturally determined impositions from design history but also familiar relations from his paternal legacy and what he could bring with him from Asia to Scandinavia decades prior. 

For this exhibition, Dhunsi’s images standing still are unusual. The machinic system he usually creates to make them unreadable has disappeared. Their freezing into a frame should make us feel more stable, but something remains floating without such a spinning view. Floating, free falling, is considered dangerous in our times. We are taught we need navigation to know where we are going. We need a function. We need to function within the machinic system we have been given. 
Dhunsi explores how a site turns into sight, pointing to photography’s intrinsic historical function of land grabbing. He speaks about images not only capturing a landscape —as if abstract— momentarily but also serving domination power. The camera grabs the image of a territory, restricts its access, and defines its ownership. Although it seems we are given access through the field of vision to open landscape or the cultural landscape —even nature— we are recirculated as the viewer witnessing and therefore enabling knowledge of sight of the dispossessed. We are non-agential witnesses yet reproducing dispossession.

Dev Dhunsi (b. 1996, Trondheim) is a Norwegian-Indian multidisciplinary artist with education from Oslo National Academy of The Arts and The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. He has recently explored the distribution and attitudes towards photography and textile production creating a symbiotic relationship between the two mediums. While simultaneously looking at the world through a lens of queer theories and diasporic gaze. He has recently exhibited at Fotogalleriet (2023), Mint abf (2023, Stockholm), Melk Galleri (2022), Kunstnernes Hus (2022), National Sports Museum in Stockholm (Stockholm, 2022) and is a selected talent for the Futures Photography platform 2023.