textThe work “Punjab” is based on a series of 7 drawings created on an airplane while flying from Europe to Asia. The images presented are landscapes. They are landscapes of 'our world'. In our field of view it is human settlements which stand out the most. City lights are the eye-catchers of a night 'worldscape'. This is 'us'. The context is global.
Down there it was night. It was a bright night. I could see the stars in the sky, which hinted that I was flying from West to East, my window view being directly towards the North. On the ground I saw lights of towns and cities aligned along roads and highways. I did not know what time it was down there. I was in a timeless space between the time of departure and time of arrival. The board computer gave me a hint of where I was: 31:17 N 72:48 E .
I was thinking about the place I happened to be at - between places and between time zones. “If a place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, then a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place” (Marc Auge, Non-places, New York 1995). If an airport is considered a typical non-place, than the space of the airplane - between departure and arrival, in a uncertain time zone - is its logical extension and a representation of its essence. The only context available is the geographic location.
In some way, it is a similar situation like standing in the midst of a huge primeval forest. A place where a person in 'one with nature'. A place where the only relationship that matters is the relationship between the person and the world itself, which surrounds him/her.
The idea of 'nature' is a highly 'cultural' concept. People are first and foremost 'cultural'. In the idea of Levi-Strauss human society differentiates itself from nature as to establish its own identity, thus actually defining both culture and nature. In the next step, the legitimacy of culture is self affirmed by comparing it back to nature. It is our culture which is 'natural' to us. Non-places are places where one is 'one with the world' (the cultured world) instead of 'one with nature'. In non-places there is 'no context'. Or better say, there is only 'one context' – the global context. The relationship between an individual, society and the world as a whole. The prototype of the 'new nature', the cultured world.
The relationship present in the artwork consists of three links, as hinted above. First, there is outer space, representing the 'not human' (void? God?). Second, there is 'our space' – our world, representing the physical Earth inhabited by humanity. The third element is the spectator himself. S/he is 'in-between', a link between the worldly (in his daily life) and the un-worldly (in his thoughts).