Subodh Kerkar's 'The Nail' reaches Netherlands

Subodh Kerkar's 'The Nail' reaches Netherlands

Subodh Kerkar remembers that growing up, his parents would paint in their spare time and he would happily join in. “At 18, I wanted to be anything but a soldier, a priest or a shopkeeper,” he laughs. Kerkar eventually studied medicine and, like his parents, took up art as a hobby.

However, when life as a doctor returned to normal – and he noticed that his artworks were being bought by collectors – he decided to pursue an alternate career. Today, the artist and founder of the private art gallery, Museum of Goa, is taking his art international. Last Sunday, a fun installation titled Nail It was performed with more than 50 participants on Ijmuiden beach in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. This weekend, a film of it, along with two other installations, will be shown at a festival called Lalaland in Ruijgoord, which showcases art and music from India.

The nail was performed by more than 50 participants

Nail Performed by more than 50 participants

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Answer to the call of the sea

It took me a long time to get here. “Initially I started painting portraits and landscapes, but then I got bored!” says Kerkar. “Just because I could draw, it didn’t mean I was close to becoming an artist. So I trained my eye and knowledge by constantly visiting galleries, museums and biennials – they became my art teachers.”

Describing his work as a reflection of his thoughts and commentary on his experiences, often highlighting his socio-political beliefs, Kerkar's works are largely performative, shot in the beachside landscape. “I call myself an ocean artist because I believe the ocean has played a huge role in the creation of civilisations. It has carried people, ideas, text and trade for centuries – it is the highway of culture. When I create works or compositions on the beach, I am celebrating the inseparability of life and the ocean.”

Nail It is reminiscent of the lives of Goan fishermen whom he observed while practising medicine in their villages. Kerkar realised how inseparable their lives are from the sea.” It was also inspired by the book homo ludenswritten by Dutch historian and cultural theorist Johan Huizinga. He described humans as homo ludens, or naturally playful creatures, because being playful is the foundation of human nature – from the time we are children, we are not taught or forced to play,” he explains, pointing out that the installation also celebrates boating and rowing, which are popular Dutch activities.

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Gandhi's Bicycle

Walking on the beaches of Amsterdam, Kerkar explains how the idea kept coming to him. He points to the sea of ​​shells scattered on the sand. “I decided to draw Gandhi with them, and wondered what his connection was with Holland. But then it turned out that there are 30 streets named after him, as well as three statues. They are a country where there are more bicycles than citizens, and Gandhi’s bicycle was eventually donated to the Netherlands. Do you know that? I didn’t.”

pitch black in front of the sea

Wearing black T-shirts and shorts, participants sit in pairs, facing each other, in a long line on the beach. Kerkar directs them through a megaphone while they clap their thighs, hold hands, and rock back and forth like a boat in the ocean. Once positioned correctly, his drone captures the action from above, as a dog pounces on something more interesting brought in by the waves at the edge of the frame.

“There's not much acting here. Every participant performs something simple like walking in a circle. My background is the sea, my light is the sun and its shadows. All the dramatic stuff is provided to me by nature. The only thing that's not organic here is the whole thing being shot by a drone,” he says.

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