Melancholia in the Age of Mechanization, Kiran Subbaiah, Reliable Copy, 2024, 20 x 27.5 cm, 175 pages, PB , ISBN: 9788195347278
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In 'Melancholia in the Age of Mechanization’ originally written in 1994, the artist Kiran Subbaiah reevaluates the history of Modernism, through its ideals of growth and progress, as one steeped in contradictions around industrialisation and its effects on society. This treatise charts the fictional passage of Melancholia—a figure borrowed from Albrecht Durer’s engraving from 1514—through a range of art historical movements, from Cubism to Pop Art, burdened by the weight of mechanisation, lamenting her centuries-long inability to take flight.

Published here for the first time, ‘Melancholia in the Age of Mechanization’ was written as part of Kiran Subbaiah’s Master's in Sculpture at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. The complete facsimile of this dissertation is accompanied by a recent interview with the artist by Nihaal Faizal and Sarasija Subramanian.

Kiran Subbaiah’s works examine the relationships of use and value in everyday objects by subverting their form and function. Constructing paradoxes through deadpan humour, Subbaiah’s works manipulate the object in an act of emancipation, in order to highlight art’s autonomy from having to serve a purpose. After widely exhibiting regionally and internationally, Subbaiah retired from art-making a decade ago, and now tends to a coffee plantation in Coorg.

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