May 17, 2012

Gregory Thielker. Highway.

766 km, 2011. Pencil on paper, 10 x 14”.

1152 km, 2011.  Pencil on paper, 10 x 14”.

This project focuses on the Grand Trunk Road, one of India’s ancient highways, which has recently been renovated as part of a national highway campaign. As I traveled back and forth from Delhi on trips that ranged from one day to two weeks, I followed a predetermined process whereby I would do a drawing from the road perspective every 76 kilometers (1/20th of the 1500 km/900+ mile journey) and then interview people whom I met on the road. The drawings were done in this manner to avoid my own subjective choices about what would be interesting to portray. Furthermore, the process connects closely with conceptual art, where a defined system (roadway mileage stops) guides the production.

The series documents the road as it exists today- the remnants from the past, new construction, and voices of people who live and work there. Drawings of interview participants, maps, receipts, book pages, and roadside views de-emphasize single or specially chosen sites in favor of a holistic and democratic view of what anyone might see while traveling the road. The interviews and drawings became a study of grey tones- not just in terms of stylistic choices but in the variety of interpretations. By looking at a drawing from this series, we can juxtapose what we bring to the images with how people near this road interpret their own ever-changing environment.

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