Dear DAWOOD / DEORA
What you see from your window? What are your thoughts on that view and how, if at all, it is associated with your practice?
What do a swimming pool, a pop promo and the Olympics have in common? Nothing, everything, and the view from our window of course.
Recently commissioned to create a celebration of the leap-yearly orgy known as the Olympics, DAWOOD / DEORA said jawohl with masala, and sneakily made a turgid dance beat with jingoistic lyrics for kitsch nymphets to dance to, all framed in front of a pool, in the shape of pre-partition India (or greater Hindustan, as some would have it).
Conveniently enough, said pool happens to be the view from DAWOOD / DEORA’s window—or near enough. Built in the 1920s, when Le Corbusier led an expedition of modernist architects to the wilds of the colonial subcontinent, the Breach Candy club remains (then as now) a hangout for the privileged elite. Somewhere you can retire for a bracing early morning swim, or escort a young lady for an after-dark cocktail in the club’s cabana.
Part of a constructivist re-imagining of the city by the sea (even while swimming in the pool you can smell the salt air and see the sea) the club presents the logical extension of the utopian premise of imperial modernism. Or any modernism for that matter. Visionary architecture procured for the masses by their masters. The grand plan, like the spectre of uber-nationalism and trans-nationalism, lives on as a lingering trope in the greatest democracy on earth, the shadow of the Death star…Hindustan humhari, yeh humhari kahani, shakti shanti .
Our view is caught between the pyrrichally triumphant, hyper-nationalistic nature of international sports competitions and the growing desire of the masses of the world’s largest democracy to one day be ‘developed’ enough to host the Olympics; a desire which is itself sublimated by the fact that India won its first ever individual gold medal this year. Parades for the triumphant, for the best, the better, the recognised. The true Olympic quest, as in Leni Riefenstahl’s sublime vision, is no less than war itself. Not a war of land armies, but a battle of hearts and minds!
As Derrida would have it, a border is threatened from its first tracing, and the Olympics like Paul Klee’s definition of drawing means taking a line for a walk. In our view, the line represents the various configurations of international borders and cultures at the present moment. Always open to slippage, but desperate for security, rather like our Phillips modern standard atlas. Or our mothers’ cooking.
By linking our view between Britain and India we take an obvious history, and map it out anew, holding out an olive branch to our former masters, as a token for the esteem they will retain even as we launch our first rocket to the moon and beyond…
Hindustan humhari, yeh humhari kahani, shakti shanti …To look at the whole concept of borders in a new evolving global environment. To reshape the perspective, or question: is it really there? Or just lines—just dance.
DAWOOD / DEORA is a conceptual pop duo based in Bombay (for individual biographies please type in either ‘DAWOOD’ or ‘DEORA’ into your search engine) Featured as ARCHIVE SPOTLIGHT #11 as part of Suzanne van der Lingen & Claire Walsh’s Footnoting the Archive project, 2016