Reena Saini Kallat
Shifting Ecotones 2 (The Teesta River)
Image courtesy of the artist and Nature Morte.
“Through much of my work over the last decade and a half I've explored the border, the territory and the map thinking of how these man-made incisions on the ground decide the fate of citizens on either side of the border and the implications to their lives. While borders are a political construct I've primarily been interested in the psychological, social barriers between people more than the physical borders themselves.”
- Reena Saini Kallat
Shifting Ecotones expands the artist’s meditation on borders by examining lines drawn in and on water, from rivers that form contested national boundaries to borders set over open seas. At such waterscapes claimed by rival nations, territorial assertions merge with conflicts over scarce resources; river water to feed fields and hydropower plants, as well as precious mineral and oil deposits that lie beneath the sea.
The absurdity of national efforts to discipline and claim ever-moving bodies of water is alluded to in the work where the landscape, divided into grids by an unknown hand, appears like a muddled puzzle board with a missing piece.
An ‘ecotone’ is the transition zone between two biomes. Biologists have observed that such zones where two diverge landscapes merge foster greater biological diversity than either of the bordering biomes. Amidst grim visions of division and conflict, the term evokes the positive fertile potential of borderscapes, both natural and cultural.