• The work of the mason, who assembles, is the work that mattersThe foundation of one’s thought is the thought of another; thought is like a brick cemented into a wall. Thus the adjoining bricks, in a book, should not be less visible than the new brick, which is the book. What is offered to the reader, in fact, cannot be an element, but it must be the ensemble into which it is inserted : it is the whole human assemblage and edifice, which must be not just a pile of scraps, but rather a self-consciousness

    George Bataille, where this book is situated

As a starting point for my work that will take the form of Artists books, I must say that I cannot separate the intimate connection between my source of inspiration [also various books] from my own process of execution throughout my artistic journey. To engage with the book is a form of performance and a manner of taking this process further by the use of different materials and images, thus creating different architectural thoughts. This form of expression can allow a contemporary viewer to make a connection between history and the present in an ongoing act. The book thus seems to be an appropriate structure to share the essential thoughts acquired from other books. It takes the viewer through different experiences using a support that is a visual/ textual journey, rather like a film. It is also a manner of recalling a vast range of past experience and putting forward another aspect of architecture. Clearly the essential quality of an architectural hypothesis is strongly perceptible in the form of a book.

The Organic Assemblage

Assemblage is, most likely, the defining aesthetic of our times. Founded in the early 20th Century with the experiments of Cubism, Dada and Surrealism, it proved effective in both two dimensions and three, with both concrete objects in real time and disembodied images projected with light. With the advent of Post-Modernism, it officially became the preferred grand organizing principle. Today, telecommunication systems determine the shape of our world, where all manner of images and information are juxtaposed and hybridized at the speed of light. Where exactly does this place our consciousness, let alone our bodies? How do our lives and the choices we make reflect this comfortable state of heterogeneity and increasing acceptance of anxiety?

The artistic practice of Samit Das has always been mercurial and elastic, taking the premise of assemblage as its genetic code. His art incorporates photography, painting, print-making, sculpture, installation and graphic design, usually defying the conventional parameters of each and often deliberately confusing the issues. His subject is the constructed human environment, from the macro-scale of urban super-structures to the private intimacy of personal effects, but most usually the middle range of architecture and interior spaces. With his techniques and his subjects of address, Samit Das celebrates an aesthetic confusion that is both imaginary and palpable, relying on chance and reason to create works that mimic and reflect what is found everywhere around us, all of the time.

The New Bengal Hotel sits rather miraculously in the very center of the living, breathing monster that is the megalopolis of present-day Mumbai. Its form has taken shape organically over time, as if the materials of its construction and the forms they articulate have been crafted from the psychic energies of its inhabitants (both the fixed inhabitants who work there and the myriad temporary inhabitants who stay there). It is the perfect subject for Samit Das to approach, as both muse and documentary, for both dissection and contemplation. Its program confirms completely the inherent truth behind the artist’s mucilaginous approach on both the conceptual and material planes.

Peter Nagy, New Delhi.
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