Karta Kaur, Adjustments. Bethlem Gallery Commission 2020
Bethlem Gallery commissioned Karta Kaur to make a work to promote the gallery’s 2020 art fair. Kaur’s statement, below, discusses her approach and what makes this work so relevant now.
Adjustments was built using three different support structures: a roadworks cone, a plastic lid and a box, so that the clay could be supported whilst modelling. The support structures allow the clay to stiffen and strengthen. Without support structures all the separate components cannot be worked on and progressed. The material and the way I handle it become both a metaphor for my chronic illness and a process of adjustments necessary to reach a final objective.
This work includes reflections on Covid-19 and the need for public buildings to make adjustments for all (distancing, masks). Prior to Covid-19, adjustments in public buildings were aimed at disabled people (ramps etc), but now they are globally needed to alter individual and collective patterns of behaviour.
The commission, its setting (hospital grounds) and the timing (Covid-19) reflect our shared preoccupation for health and interaction.
The figures are sat in isolation while looking at their smart phones. There is a parallel between the enforced isolation due to Covid-19 measures and the isolation I experience in my life because of the limitations imposed by a chronic condition. The layer of restrictions imposed by Covid-19 measures feel like an amplification of what I experience all the time, and the electronic device is a shared portal to interaction with the outside world.