In Void, Sumakshi Singh converts nooks, crannies, and architectural anomalies of spaces into imaginary landscapes and micro-environments inspired by nature—especially plants, fungal growths, and other organic materials. Her miniature worlds of organic and synthetic elements live within the hollow spaces of the gallery walls, pockets in the ceiling, and corners of the room. These artificial voids echo everyday encounters that often remain unnoticed, like a crack in the sidewalk or a hole in the wall. In them, the audience finds an evocation of how the natural, living world is forced to respond and adapt to the sterility of the built environment.
In John Corbett’s essay about the exhibition, he compares the sensibilities present in Singh’s works to a revelation Butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno had when he looked into a handful of dirty water reflecting the sky and beheld both the enormous and the miniscule in the same instant. Corbett wrote:
Singh’s wall works could be taken for mistakes, smudgy fingerprints left by a careless gallery worker, or what she describes as “histories of previous installations.” That is, the marks left on a gallery by activity therein, the inscription of art on the place it inhabits. The “foundness” of these relics, however, is often mythological, producing an unsettling ambiguity: what is her work and what are the idiosyncrasies of the existing space? Singh’s “natural” environs, which evoke walks in the woods and the thrill of discovering whole worlds in the trunk of a dead tree, are constructed, sometimes even designed to lure the audience into a false sense that the means of production have been revealed.
Void was commissioned as part of the 2003 At the Edge: Innovative Art in Chicago series.