Name to know: Ratna Khanna


Name to know: Ratna Khanna

The Delhi-based artist's first solo exhibition is made of genius reflections

By Cheryl-Ann Couto  March 17th, 2016

How do we create personal geographies in which our inner and outerworlds collide? It’s a question that has preoccupied the Delhi-based artist for nearly a decade – and in her first solo exhibition Every Place that is on at Mumbai’s Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke this month, she passes it on to viewers. Khanna uses glass and mirror – photographing them against nature, constructing sculptures with reflective surfaces, drawing graphite representations of how they refract light  to distort and rebuild how we think we see the world around us as well as allude to its acute fragility. So a photograph of a mirrored house (“not a house, a shape that arrives in your head as a house,” she corrects) forces you to contemplate the reflected surroundings and your mind colours in the emotional details that you associate with the idea of home. “When you see all that is reflected, you step outside just yourself and your ego, you experience empathy,” she says. Khanna first began thinking of “ the landscape as a medium and the relationship between built and natural environments” to make sense of her place in the semi-urban setting she inhabited while obtaining a BFA in Liberal Arts from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA in Photography and Imaging Arts from Rochester Institute of Technology. And her urge to stoke the ‘Geographical Imagination’ (coined by the anthropologist David Harvey whose theory drives her questions) will likely find its next springboard in her home city: “I want to talk about Gurgaon without talking about Gurgaon because this place exists everywhere in India – the insane infrastructure, total lack of civic beauty, broken promises – and what it does to our spiritual selves.”

Every Place is on till March 31 at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke

Photograph: Manasi Sawant; Styling: Nidhi Jacob; Make-up and hair: Saher Ahmed