In her sculpture titled Absence Presence for ‘Hold…on.’ in Bodh Gaya, Galhotra addresses the subject of ownership of resources in relation to the environment. The rubble wall measuring 60 X 180 inches has the words Absence Presence in an empty space, fabricated in steel-rod.
While the word ‘Absence’ is legible from one side of the free-standing sculpture in a garden, the word ‘Presence’ can be read from the opposite side, thereby raising the idea of duality. The rubble coming from the gate of the Thai monastery at Bodhgaya, becomes a material laden with spiritual, philosophical, historical, cultural and political values.
The words selected by the artist (also the title of the work) takes cue from Buddhist philosophy and thereby becomes an apt-site specific expression for the place where the Buddha is said to have achieved his enlightenment. In today’s contemporary reality,
Galhotra takes inspiration from this historical moment to draw attention to our own rights and responsibilities, the absence of scientific knowledge and the presence of superstitious ignorance.
Harnessing the power of art in the Age of the Anthropocene, Galhotra uses metaphoric verbal/visual play to persuade the viewers to think differently about their relationships with nature and culture. Absence Presence resonates with Bernard Stiegler’s idea of the ‘Neganthopocene’: a non-polluting, non-destructive, organological configuration, which can potentially lead to an ecological and ecosophical turn of the economy.