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Jitish Kallat explores interrelationship between the cosmic and the terrestrial

For art lovers, Dubai-based Ishara Art Foundation has staged a magnificent treat in the form of ‘Order of Magnitude’ by Jitish Kallat, among one of the most widely exhibited contemporary Indian artists.
Being the artist’s first major solo exhibition in West Asia and the Levant makes it very special — an ideal opportunity to see his new works comprising paintings, multimedia installations, drawings, and site-specific interventions — close at hand.
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The overall theme of ‘Order of Magnitude’ is “the interrelationship between the cosmic and the terrestrial.”
Apart from the artworks, Jitish sets up a site-specific intervention titled ‘N-E-S-W’ comprising a functional compass within the flooring of the gallery, anchoring the Ishara Foundation at Al Serkal Avenue in Al Quoz, Dubai, as a planetary surveying device as well as aligning the place with invisible force fields.
Jitish masterfully expresses his contemplation at the individual level and finds the ‘overarching connectivity’ with the universal, planetary, and extra-terrestrial dimensions.

The main work — ‘Integer Studies’ (Drawings from Life) – is a series of paintings that comes out of a year-long exercise by the artist during the 2021 COVID-19 pandemic in what can be called a ‘self-imposed residency’ in his studio.

Jitish made one daily drawing based on three sets of numbers: the estimated world population, the number of new births, and the death count at the moment the work was created. The diverse forms based on these three numbers were realized using graphite, aquarelle pencil, and gesso stains. The abstract works that manifested as part of the daily ‘ritual’ have a poignant symmetry: they are both graphic and painterly, as well as summon existential angst as they prompt questions of extinction and evolution.

The display runs through the exhibition space, resembling both the horizon and the equator, and brings out the emotional and evocative aspects of Jitish’s work.

Alongside ‘Integer Studies,’ is the wall-sized painting ‘Postulates from a Restless Radius’ that takes the form of the conic Albers projection of the Earth. The work is presented as a cross-sectional grid (in aquarelle pencil) that opens up the globe on a flat plane. The approach is not cartographic here, but an exploration of planetary geography. Assembled are ‘signs and speculation’ evoking botanical, suboceanic, celestial, and geological formations.

‘Postulates from a Restless Radius’ is an exploratory abstraction of forms that suggest signatures of growth and entropy.
In the center of the gallery, are four double-sided and multiscopic photo works titled ‘Epicycles.’ The genesis of these works began in 2020 during the early days of the pandemic, as a hand-drawn journal minutely capturing minute changes in Jitish’s studio – even the cracks forming on the walls, the falling leaf, and a tree stem. This happened during his 15-day isolation in his studio following his return to Mumbai from the US. These everyday observations were then combined with archival images of common humanity captured by photographers from around the world for the famous Family of Man exhibition in 1955 organized at the MoMA, New York. On the verso are images from his ‘Integer Studies’ drawings. Meticulously composed on a lenticular surface, the depicted figures appear and disappear as one moves around the work, yielding a highly complex portrait of time in its transience and ephemerality.

At Ishara’s mezzanine floor, we are drawn into a new iteration of Jitish’s immersive installation ‘Covering Letter’ (terranum nuncius). Here images from the Golden Records that travelled as part of NASA’s 1977 Voyager 1 and 2 space mission rest on shelves along two opposite walls. Placed inside programmed LED frames, 116 parallax prints flicker in a breath-like cadence. They encapsulate a summary of life on Earth, including scientific, anatomical, and cosmological diagrams as well as its flora, fauna and architecture.
Permeating the exhibition space are the sounds of salutation to the universe that were on the Golden Records in 55 languages. The two Voyagers, as they journey in space, are now estimated to be over 14 billion miles away from Earth, and Jitish’s work is a reminder of an epic presentation of “our” world to an unknown other.

As we find ourselves in a deeply divided world, Jitish foregrounds these images and reverberations for a collective meditation on ourselves as residents of a single planet, where the ‘other’ is an unfamiliar ‘intergalactic alien.’
The installation takes on a wistful tone as Jitish projects a map of 14 pulsars — the return address marked on the Records — facing a bench in the shape of the Doomsday Clock.
The symbolic clock proposed by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is reset every year, representing our growing proximity to a hypothetical man-made global catastrophe that is expected to strike at midnight.
Jitish, of course, has a considerable body of work behind him, and this exhibition at Ishara would be the perfect occasion for a greater insight into his brilliant and thought-provoking oeuvre and familiarize oneself with the themes and techniques that echo through his works and hold them together.

His work while emanating from the present, harks back to a mythical time, and vice versa reminding us of the need to go back and forth in time and space while attempting to capture the cosmic cycles underpinning our existence. As Jitish himself has averred, his art is always trying to constantly shift the axis and angles of vision as it were.

In the essay titled ‘Drawing Breath,’ by Amal Khalaf, Director of Programmes at Cubitt & Civic Curator at Serpentine Galleries, notes: “What time is it on the clock of the world? On this planet that is depleted, extracted from, transforming faster than we can predict, where and how do we locate ourselves? In ecological or interstellar time? Where, on an algorithmic timeline, is now? How do we locate ourselves in ourselves? How can we find ways to metabolise this loss to make meaning and sow seeds in the compost of our grief? What frames of reference, what scaffolds are holding us?
“Jitish Kallat’s practice moves us through orders of magnitude, in bodies of work that transport us through time and space, from the cellular to the celestial.”
Smita Prabhakar, Founder of Ishara Art Foundation, speaking to Al Arabiya English, said: “With Jitish’s show, Ishara cements its commitment to art practices from South Asia that are challenging, pertinent to the moment and artistically sound and of world calibre. We are indeed proud and honored to have hosted this first exhibition of Jitish in the Middle East and Levant and thank everyone for their support.”
As Ishara’s seventh exhibition, this show furthers the Foundation’s commitment to showcasing museum-grade exhibitions of pioneering voices in contemporary art.
‘Order of Magnitude’ is open till July 1 , 2022.

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Lindsay Lohan celebrates birthday as married woman to Dubai resident Bader Shammas

Actress Lindsay Lohan is celebrating her 36th birthday on Saturday as a married woman.

The “Freaky Friday” star said she was the “luckiest woman in the world” in an Instagram post Friday that pictured her with financier Bader Shammas, who had been her fiance.

“I am stunned that you are my husband,” Lohan said in the post, adding that “every woman should feel like this everyday.”

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The couple had announced their engagement last November. People magazine and Entertainment Tonight confirmed there had been a wedding, but no details were offered.

While still single a few years ago, Lohan told Entertainment Tonight that she was looking for “a smart businessman” and someone who doesn’t like the spotlight. Shammas’ Instagram account is private.

The “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” actress and sometimes singer has worked through some sobriety issues in recent years, and has recently filmed a romantic comedy that is due to be released on Netflix later this year.

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Dutch university gets cyber ransom money back with interest

A Dutch university that fell victim to a massive ransomware attack has partly received back its stolen money, which in the meantime more than doubled in value, a news report said on Saturday.

The southern Maastricht University in 2019 was hit by a large cyberattack in which criminals used ransomware, a type of malicious software that locks valuable data and can only be accessed once the victim pays a ransom amount.

“The criminals had encrypted hundreds of Windows servers and backup systems, preventing 25,000 students and employees from accessing scientific data, library and mail,” the daily De Volkskrant said.

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The hackers demanded 200,000 euros ($208,000) in bitcoins.

“After a week the university decide to accede to the criminal gang’s demand,” the paper said.

“This was partly because personal data was in danger of being lost and students were unable to take an exam or work on their theses,” it said.

Dutch police traced part of the ransom paid to an account belonging to a money launderer in Ukraine.

Prosecutors in 2020 seized this man’s account, which contained a number of different crypto currencies including part of the ransom money paid by Maastricht.

“When, now after more than two years, it was finally possible to get that money to the Netherlands, the value had increased from 40,000 euros to half-a-million euros,” the paper said.

Maastricht University will now get the 500,000 euros ($521,000) back.

“This money will not go to a general fund, but into a fund to help financially strapped students,” Maastricht University ICT director Michiel Borgers said.

The investigation into the hackers responsible for the attack on the university is still ongoing, De Volkskrant added.

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Singer R. Kelly sues Brooklyn jail for putting him on suicide watch

R. Kelly on Friday sued the Brooklyn jail that has housed him since his racketeering and sex crimes conviction, saying it wrongly put him on suicide watch after he received a 30-year prison sentence despite knowing he was not suicidal.

In a complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court, the 55-year-old multiplatinum R&B singer said officials at the Metropolitan Detention Center ordered the watch after his June 29 sentencing “solely for punitive purposes” and because he was a “high-profile” inmate.

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Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean quoted a prosecutor as saying the jail’s legal counsel had told her that “per the psychology department, is on a psych alert for various reasons, such as age, crime, publicity and sentencing.” No timetable was provided.

Bonjean wasn’t satisfied with the explanation. “Simply put, MDC Brooklyn is run like a gulag,” she wrote.

Kelly said the “harsh conditions” he faced led to “severe mental distress,” and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment that violated the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment.

He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, though the docket suggests Kelly is seeking $100 million.

The jail did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Known for the 1996 Grammy-winning hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” Kelly was convicted last September on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which bars transporting people across state lines for prostitution.

Prosecutors said Kelly exploited his stardom and wealth over two decades to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex, with the help of his entourage.

Kelly said he was also put on suicide watch after his conviction.

Ghislaine Maxwell, another inmate at the Brooklyn jail, was placed on suicide watch on June 24, four days before being sentenced to 20 years in prison for aiding financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of underage girls.

Maxwell’s lawyer said the British socialite had been given a “suicide smock” and deprived of clothing, toothpaste and soap though she too was not suicidal.

Friday’s filings did not say what specific conditions Kelly faced.

Kelly still faces an August trial in Chicago federal court on child pornography and obstruction charges, and various state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

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