“That woman dreamt herself in my dream, who inscribed herself in my dream by appearing there; I say she is not my mother. Therefore, it is the mother who writes and represents herself therein”.
Louis Martin rewriting Sigmund Freud in Writing History with the Sun King
One the mimetic fringe, images dream themselves. The space of their real is the space of my sleep. In this realism, I am in the image of my image - a perfectly singular space! As one retouches some real with some real, the image is invariably elided. In a way, the image elides itself. The mimetic fringe is transformed into mimetic sleep. Here, in this liminal zone, the supressed letters find their dislocation - now, as a loss of homogeneity! These images wake up in a new flotsam - as prosthetic limbs energised in a somnambulance. In this realism the narrator is in a state of syncope. A gaze recovered in oblivion - in any space whatever! A forgetting within remembrance! A posture instead of space!
Within a classicity of realism, the gaze first appears as an interface between the image and its outside. It is in this sense that the image would always be of itself - the image of image! This, then, is the inescapable metaphysics of realism. It is through this intercession that the image acquires a face and, thereby its essential dignity. Paradoxically this is how the question of the modern is classically pitched: an interface between the image and an outside preventing ecstacies of pure communication but also, thereby, creating a concrete and autonomous sense of space. The gaze as interface brings the space into perspective. The new subjectivity would be anchored in space. In Manjit’s drawings, however, the space is no longer the anchor of the gaze. For, it is invariably engaged in a play and returned. If not, it is lost in the unseen distance of a journey that did not begin or end in a narrative. This interface is no longer a privileged point; it has become multivalent even as that cluster of cows that peer back at you demanding, as if, what your performance, as against theirs, is. Thus, the interface is decisively dissolved. The gaze now exists in the movement - in this new relay of an impossible symbolic exchange where the symbols are dismantled in looks and by looks. These are “the bonds that beings and things are waiting for, in order to live” (Robert Bresson).
In the relay of looks, the classical positioning of the modern is, as if, erased. The two-faced gaze is elided. In an equally significant move, all figuration is disengaged from narrative and collected across a bare, an almost abstemious, memory. Narrative is stranded as a mere trace in this quiet universe of looks and postures. These forms occur as affectionate markers in Manjit’s long and arduous journeys. Ion a sense, a very intimate link is forged here with the Udasis of Guru Nanak. His drawings, especially, reverberate with references form his difficult and lonely treks through Asia and Europe. His diaries of those days open like the Borgesian Book of Sand that simply refuses to come to an end. These are fabled journeys that are difficult to contain within a genre. These journeys, without fear and rancour, astound you in their discovery of vismay even in dismembered limbs. No wonder they are aglow with a magical inner luminosity. In this universe, there would be a chance encounters with birds and animals who, in their postures, would have become space in lieu of an outside, real space. These journeys would unfold as vivid introspections as when this flute player beside her dog and with a distant gaze would have acquired a weight that no space or narrative would be able to contain. The dignity that once existed within the interface is now scattered across the silence of these forms.
This was first published in a catalogue by Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in 1990.