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  • Ekta Kumar

Tried Upside Down?

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

"He said, 'I'd like a pair of socks, with clocks on them, and in a box'" - Alexander Kushner

You probably have a favourite emoji, one that pops up as a prompt all the time. Do you use red hearts, or a thumbs up, tears of joy or the very placid namaste? Mine is the smiling yellow face, one that is upside down. There is something so cute and crazy about it. I like the idea of being upside down. Like a bat.

But bats hang like that for good reason. It is the perfect position for take-off, they simply drop down and fly. It conserves both energy and heat. They find it easier, quite unlike us. We prefer upright, obviously. For us (mostly adults) being upside down is a very deliberate, and usually difficult position - one undertaken under the strict eye of a yoga teacher, or attempted after much cajoling, a couple of drinks, or one of the rare instances of playful behaviour.

Perhaps we should try it. Things look different, when inverted. Which is why artists often experiment by placing things out of context.

The Harlequin’s Carnival - Joan Miró (1924-25).

A carnival, in an indoor space

I remember walking into a museum of upside-down rooms. It had chairs stuck to ceilings, paintings flipped around, an elaborate glass chandelier growing out of the floor and a carpet over my head. I was the only thing straight, and boring.

And boring is good, boring is routine, boring is comfort, boring keeps us safe, but every once in a while, it is probably a good idea to turn over, and see the things we take for granted, from another angle.

Breakfast in Fur - Meret Oppenheim (1936)

Perspective changes. Everyday objects take on an extraordinary hue. When things are out of place, it can get absurd, roles get reversed, and the boundaries set by practicality cease to exist. Imagine overturned candles, clogged by dripping molten wax, refusing to light up, taps spouting water upwards, cupboards might just work, chairs certainly won’t, flower pots might look prettier, the grass will feel closer and the ants on it, scarier…

We too must have a certain place in the world when we are upright. But what when we are hanging upside down. Even if it is for a brief moment - does life get to be more interesting?


ps- this,

New York City 1 - Piet Mondrian

On the other hand - this famous painting was hanging upside down for years in various museums. Until finally someone noticed!

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