Mind and matter…they have been one of the important topics of study in the sciences and the humanities for centuries. Through his dictum “Je pense donc je suis” (“I think therefore I am”), Descartes declared that mind and matter are distinct and of a different nature to each other. Other philosophers and visionaries were of the view that one had to conquer matter. And, for neither the scientist nor the philosopher, could it at all become an art matter.

Nausheen Bari, Aurovilian ceramicist, feels one has to go from matter to “dismatter” and hence the title of her exhibition “Matter matters”, opening on Wednesday in Citadines.

In 2011, this textile designer and yoga teacher left everything in Mumbai to come straight to Pondicherry in order to study in the best school of ceramics in India, the famous “Golden Bridge Pottery”.

For survival, she had to bridge mind and matter (!) and taught yoga for 2 years at SITA Cultural Center, Pondicherry, until she moved to Auroville, where she decided to put down her roots. Here, she worked full time in ceramics with Mandala Pottery until about a month ago.

Her journey in ceramics moved from a few group shows in Mumbai and Delhi, a workshop in Hampi (where she rolled in mud to truly experience matter) to a residency in Korea, and now to “Matter matters”, which is her first solo exhibition.

There are about 80 pieces exhibited in order for us to experience our oneness with matter. We are invited not only to look at but also to touch and even become part of the material. Twist being an obsession in her technique, one will feel in constant movement with distorted big metallic brown vases, 6 “look like Enzos” hanging on the wall and 8 twirling 16 inch dervishes, another of her big fascinations.

Her message is that there is nothing to conquer. To be truly authentic you have to observe, harmonize and give in to matter in order to fully understand it. “Clay is the right thing for that” she says, and whether you roll in it or melt your fingers in it, this is an opportunity to feel part of it.

In a quite revolutionary spiritual approach, Nausheen Bari gives a different perspective to ceramic work. She declares that there is too much philosophy and it is too much in the head. Therefore, her question is “where is it really happening?” and in ceramics everything can be seen through the 4 elements – earth, water, fire and wind, where all truly is.

A lot to reflect on, a lot to look at, and going through the exhibition one might suddenly wonder if there is truly nothing to conquer when one doesn’t even know what one is conquering. ” Matter matters” is all about that.

Chana Corinne Devor for AVArtService


Matter Matters

By Nausheen Bari

An exhibition of ceramics at the Centre d’Art Citadines

From 15th to 28th November, 12-6 PM (opening 15th, 4pm)