#VocalForLocal: Building Utopias

Tarini Sethi’s show at Chemould Co Lab traverses the intricacies of other worlds where time is fluid and bodies are not what you’d expect. Sethi, a fine artist, sculptor and curator expresses herself through different mediums and is inspired by surrealism and dadaism. She is the co-founder of ‘The Irregulars Art Fair’, India’s first anti-art fair that also publishes a digital art and design newspaper. The artist who was a part of Chemould CoLab’s residency program talks to Le Mill about her love for the city of Mumbai, the role it played in her show - Do They See The Same Skies As We Do?’

building uthopias, Tarini Sethi

Tarini Sethi, Mirror Mirror

What was it like to work with Chemould CoLab?

I did a two month residency with them last year, after that I went back to Delhi to produce all the work. I have been in love with Bombay, it’s more of a romantic fantasy for me because I don’t live here. So I took the opportunity to explore the city and then when I went back to Delhi I responded to the photos I took and my experiences in the city. I worked on this show for about seven months.

What do you love about Mumbai?

Things like Thursday Art Night–it’s such a great concept. 90% of my close friends are not artists and the first time they went to a gallery was with me. There is this assumption that art events are private and they don’t go. Art should be for everyone.

Building Utopias, Tarini Sethi

Tarini Sethi, A Future Tomorrow

Do you think artists can afford themselves the luxury of time?

This show has about 19 pieces, it takes me about a month and a half to make each piece. I am always creating more than one piece at any given time. Artists don’t work on deadlines for the most part in a way that illustrators, graphic designers or even writers do. In that sense we work for ourselves.

Tell us what drove you to create ‘Do They See The Same Skies As We Do?’

Ever since I started my practice as a professional artist, my work has been centered around the body and this idea that there’s no one perfect body. Within the scope of that, I have been exploring the idea of utopias where people can live more freely. This exhibition is more about world building. I am imagining this other world where our ancestors and grandchildren can co-exist. Every single piece is about harmony, humans and the natural world and goes into an anthropomorphic space. It’s a surrealistic way of speaking but artists either talk about the world we are in or how they imagine it to be in the future. So I think my work responds to the present political environment, what being a woman in this country means but also how weak we are in our bodies. I talk about the economy, global warming…

Building Uthopias, Tarini Sethi

The largest piece in the show is called ‘One Day We’re Going to Laugh About This, 2023’. This is where we finally arrive at a future utopia. The left and the right look similar and these creatures are living in harmony with one another. It talks about how one day we’ll laugh about all the struggles it took for us to get to this utopia.

What makes you want to merge time?

I think we learn from our past. We have to learn from the mistakes of our past to know how our future is going to look. So in that way, it’s important to talk about the past, present and future together.

How do you recharge yourself when you’re inundated?

I’m going to shame myself by admitting this–I love watching reality TV when I’m stressed. I work out a lot, I have been boxing for the last three years, I play with my dog. When I am working,  I listen to horror podcasts!


Do They See The Same Skies As We Do? Is on display at Chemould CoLab until April 15, 2023. Address: 2nd floor, Flat no 8, Sugra Manzil, BEST Marg, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001