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New world symphony - MILAN RAI
New world symphony

September 5, 2020

The new world symphony re-imagines the everyday environment. I use the energy of everyday objects to dissolve the mystery and allow people to relate and respond from the sensory perspective rather than only intellectual one. This artful expression whirls around the densely woven web of the interconnected world and humans’ relationships with each other, objects and places.

It is apparent that an airport is a place where one experiences a range of emotions from people launching in a new direction with fear and hope for a better life and others returning full of joy to see their loved ones. With a distinct awareness in my mind and body about these heightened emotions I began my research at the airport. Especially in Nepal where hundreds of youth leave their country as economic migrants every day in search of a better life carrying their emotional and material burdens in the trolleys. Observation of this complexity of emotions triggered my research, with a special interest in depicting sadness with a dark and despairing tone at this time of transition. People trying to discover glimmers of hope in an unknown land speak to me as an artist coming from a developing country. What drove my interest in the project in the first place was the potential of a project that interrogated collective identity and our experiences within the changing world.

People’s engagement with the airport trolley teased my thinking. For a while the trolley becomes an extension of our hands that carries the luggage filled with dreams and aspirations. These trolleys, shared by the people, hold the vestiges of unknown personal stories. Observing the changing hands and energy transmitted to the trolley by whoever is at the helm, the traces of each individual’s lives deposited there, I began to envisage each individual as a unique melody; some melancholic, some hopeful, some resounding with joy. As these different emotions merged I began to hear the symphony emerge, the airport appeared to me as an orchestra. Thus the title of this installation is taken from the great emotional depth of Antonin Dvorak‘s ‘New World Symphony.

The project is to construct an orchestra’s stage, re-position over one hundred airport trolleys in the formation of the orchestra.  A wheel barrow occupies the conductor’s place. The seat of the soul. The ensemble of over hundreds of airport trolleys in the exhibition site is a re-imagining of the dramatic movement of our life as an orchestra. Here each trolley imagines itself as a part of a melody. Together they speak of thresholds, rise and falls, ebbs and flows, of the symphony echoing the emotional resonance. This orchestral installation is an amalgamation of collective experiences in the node of a globalised world, the airport where journeys mean something unique to each individual from economic migrant to those free to explore. It comments on humanity and everyday existence, becoming a therapeutic agent creating harmony in an otherwise chaotic world.

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