An important distinction can be drawn in the recent graphic works of Nita Tandon, between the practice of abstraction or representation and that of non-representation. Whilst the former rely on the establishment of a relation to that which exists elsewhere – this signification of an other – and the referencing of something that existed previously, the practice of non-representation posits the construction of that which did not exist before, of something that represents no other thing.
Tandon’s recent drawings are made through application of lines with both bitumen and marker pens on the reverse side of discarded repro-film which is then laid over sheets of discarded printer paper. That some of these materials are found objects bears no greater significance upon the works other than to assist in the delimitation of choice in its production. However, the very construction does pose a number of possibilities in relation to their interpretation.
A striking element of these works is that we have no access to the tactile nature of their construction. Whilst the marks of bitumen, marker pen and printed paper at once visible, their material nature is cloaked behind the screen of a transparent mask; the only surface visible to us is that of celluloid. Interestingly, this masking contradicts the tradition of overpainting where the traces of the surface, the layers of material, record the temporal process of obliteration. Rather – layered in reverse and masked by the sheen of the film – Tandon’s drawings deny the inscription of linear history of their making and absent temporality, ending the interval between signifier and signified, scorning logical time. They are not descriptive.
In this condition each drawing becomes a set of moments – sort of stroboscopic flashes – suggestive of things already existent but with it refuses to synchronise. Images emerge – such as film stills; television screens; suggestions of texts, etc. – which can act as a temporary anchor in our reading but which are continualy subverted by the refusal of the work to be contained within a representative framework. The multiplicity of its suggestions is continually subverted by the surface refusing a fixed attribution.
This reassertion of non-representationality is itself a kind of obtuse relation to meaning. That is to say that the presence of the work situates it within a discourse of difference in respect to other objects. For whilst the drawing keeps proposing and undermining its suggestions, the interpretational flux that this engenders throws up a shifting network of meanings which display no fixed centre and within which viewer, work and context come into an arena of free play. While avoiding the closure of ascribing a final certainty to the work it avoids that conclusive act of naming which immobilises imagination and projection.