Contemporary Art meets Buddhism

Ipshita Sen of Saffronart shares a note on the Haein Art Project

Haeinsa Temple, Korea

Haeinsa Temple, Korea. Image Credit: http://haeinart.wordpress.com/about-haeinsa-temple/

New York: Viewing art in non-conventional spaces is always refreshing and gives the viewer an opportunity to engage with and understand the art better.  A Buddhist temple in South Korea is hosting a show of contemporary art in an effort to provide a new perspective and to create an interesting juxtaposition between Buddhism and contemporary art.

The Haeinsa Temple is a 1211 year old shrine nestled in the lush valleys of Gaya-san National Park. The temple is dedicated to the Korean Avantamsaka School of Buddhism and is home to the Tripitaka Koreana, the most complete collection of Buddhist texts, printed on 81,258 wood blocks. The buildings and the blocks were designated by the UNESCO as one of the “most important and complete corpus of Buddhist doctrinal texts in the world”. The layout of the temple is typical of a Korean monastery. Stupas, gates, courtyards, and halls are all aligned along proper axes according to geomantic principles and Buddhist symbols, physically illustrating the process of enlightenment. In fact the entire layout of Haeinsa temple resembles a sailing ship with pagodas as masts.

The year 2011 marked the first contemporary art show at the temple, commemorating the millennial anniversary of the wooden blocks, which were initially engraved, with the intent of protection from the invasion from a northern Dynasty. The ancient blocks were lost in a fire resulting from the invasion.

This year, the Haein Art Project at the temple featured new works by 30 artists from around the world; South Korea, India, U.S, Spain, Italy and Hong Kong. Most of the artists were invited to spend two weeks at the temple and create new works that are related to Buddhist thinking, for the project.

The works were scattered around the grounds of the temple. Indian artist Vibha Galhotra created an installation of white flags at the pathway that lead to the temple gates. The flags represented national flags devoid of color thus attempting to erase the borders of a divided world. Other Indian artists featuring in this project were Sheba Chhachhi, Reena Kallat, Shilpa Gupta and Hema Upadhyay. Another work by South Korean artist duo Mioon involved projections of nature and architectural images that sporadically appear and disappear as though an echo of fullness and emptiness in the viewers mind.

For more information read here.

Symposium on dOCUMENTA (13), Sharjah and Kochi-Muziris Biennales at SAA-JNU

Manjari Sihare shares details of a symposium on dOCUMENTA (13) and the Sharjah and Kochi-Muziris Biennales hosted by the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU and the Goethe Institute, Delhi

New Delhi: The School of Arts and Aesthetics (SAA), JNU, and the Goethe Institut are hosting a day-long symposium exploring key issues in international art exhibitions from the recent past on Friday, April, 19, 2013.

The symposium has been conceptualized by Geeta Kapur and focuses on dOCUMENTA (13) (June – September 2012).  Speakers are invited to address the curatorial concept of this edition. And to address, as well, a peculiar call on dOCUMENTA curators to offer, in the very form of the exhibition, a virtual world-view.

In the second part of the symposium, there will be a discussion on Biennales that are placed within more precarious circumstances. The risks and gains of working with a meager infrastructure, social taboos, uncharted aesthetics, will be brought forward. A substantial debate on the newest, most proximate Kochi-Muziris Biennale (December 2012 – March 2013) is expected. Participants will be invited to discuss, for instance, how this Biennale offered ‘site imaginaries’ in lieu of a predetermined concept; and an exhibitory poetics largely activated by participating artists. Also the role of the State (with reference to India) in supporting large-scale, audience-friendly and ground-breaking exhibition projects such as the Kochi-Muziris Biennale will be put up for scrutiny.

Friday, April 19 2013, 11.00 am – 5.30 pm
Auditorium, School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Session I (11 am to 1 pm)
Chair: Kavita Singh: Introduction and Sum-up

Vision Documenta
Referring to earlier editions, but focusing on dOCUMENTA (13) (June – September 2012), speakers are invited to address the curatorial concept of this edition; and to address, as well, a peculiar call on dOCUMENTA curators to offer, in the very form of the exhibition, a virtual world-view.

• Geeta Kapur: dOCUMENTA aesthetics in the 21st century
• Vidya Shivdas: Brief introduction to the dOCUMENTA project
• Panel: Jeebesh Bagchi, Sonia Khurana, Shuddhabrata Sengupta

Session II (1.45 pm to 3.15 pm)
Chair: Pooja Sood: Introduction and Sum-up

Ideological Readings: from Documenta to Sharjah
A reflection on Biennales placed within newer, more precarious circumstances; the risks and gains of working through untested locations, meager infrastructures, social taboos, uncharted aesthetics.

• Amar Kanwar
• CAMP
• Ravi Agarwal

Session III (3.30 pm to 5.30 pm)
Chair: Geeta Kapur

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012-2013
More than a ‘debate’ or even a measure of success and failure, understanding the conditions of production of the newest, most proximate Kochi-Muziris Biennale (December 2012 – March 2013) is important. Once staged, what are the meanings that accrue from the democratic mix of international and local viewers; with diverse spectatorship, is there a better case for state support of contemporary art? Can publics in relation to large-scale, ground-breaking projects (such as this), incite the art community into a discursive engagement with avantgarde art as a form of contextual combustion?

• Riyas Komu: ‘Against All Odds’; a presentation on the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (with visual documentation)
• Panel: Vivan Sundaram, Sheela Gowda, Subodh Gupta, Gayatri Sinha, Sheba Chhachhi
• Summing Up: Parul Dave Mukherji

For further details please contact: programm2@delhi.goethe.org

Must-Attends: Beyond the India Art Fair

Manjari Sihare shares details of some must-attend exhibitions and symposia in New Delhi coinciding with the India Art Fair 

New Delhi: If you are in India right now, Delhi is the place to be. The art world is gearing up for the country’s biggest annual art extravaganza, the India Art Fair starting on Friday, February 1 (with a preview the day before). Each year since its inception in 2008, the fair has grown larger. The 5th edition is bringing together 105 exhibiting galleries from 24 countries, presenting over 1000 works by some of the most exciting artists from across the world. But the action is not just limited to just the Fair. Outside of the Fair, there are some collateral exhibitions and events that I believe are MUST ATTENDS. Here is my list:

KNMA Noida EInviteA private museum for modern and contemporary Indian art, the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) is known to line up an ambitious program each year to mark its birthday (three years ago in January 2010, KNMA opened its first location in the HCL campus in Noida, on the outskirts of Delhi). The museum lives up to its reputation once again this year by unveiling an ambitious series of events. The first in line to open on January 18th was Zones of Contact an exhibition curated by three young and dynamic curators, Deeksha Nath, Vidya Shivadas and Akansha Rastogi. The curatorial note for the show notes that it is an attempt “to envision the museum as a site and an idea in flux, as a catalyst that by undergoing redefinition allows for concretized notions and experiences of modernity and post-modernity to be revisited and rethought.” In a country where there is really no state owned museum of contemporary art, an exhibition such as this one speaks volumes of the mission this private museum has set for itself to showcase and re-define contemporary art in the region.

On view from today is Difficult Loves , a trilogy of exhibitions curated by the Director and Chief Curator of KNMA, Roobina Karode. This includes the largest retrospective ever of the late Nasreen Mohamedi, an artist whose minimal works leave an unforgettable impression on the viewer, a tribute to India’s Frida Kahlo, Amrita Sher-Gil, and a group exhibition featuring iconic installation works of seven leading contemporary  women artists – Ranjani Shettar, Anita Dube, Sheba Chhachhi, Bharti Kher, Dayanita Singh, Sheela Gowda and Sonia Khurana. My personal favorite is Sheba Chhachhi’s Water Diviner, a version of which I first saw at the National Museum of Natural History in 48’c public. art.ecology curated by Pooja Sood and organized by the South Asian Network of Goethe Institutes in 2008. This series of shows promises to be spectacular. Not to miss at all!

KNMA exhibition

Tomorrow, the museum will be hosting two talks under the Critical Collective Symposia conceptualized and organized by veteran Delhi based critic and curator, Gayatri Sinha. The first of these is panel discussion between renowned South African contemporary artist, William Kentridge and Indian veterans, Vivan Sundaram and Nalini Malani. The second one is a talk by UK based art historian, TJ Demos, who is best known for his published work on the conjunction of art and politics.

KNMA talkThe India Art Fair always ends with the opening of an exhibition at the Devi Art Foundation. This time, it will the third and last edition of the Sarai Reader, an exhibition conceptualized by the Devi Art Foundation and Raqs Media Collective. Sarai Reader 9 is a nine month long project envisaged to draw on ‘exhibition’ as an evolving process, introducing new forms of creative thinking and methodologies. Invitations were open to anyone and everyone with an interesting idea and an engaging means of presentation, limited to a fixed duration and applicable within a space. The first  episode opened for viewing on 13 October, 2012, followed by another on 15 December last year. Read more about these episodes. This current episode will be on view until April 16, 2013. For more information, click here.

Devi Art Foundation - Sarai Reader

All the activity is not limited to Delhi only. Mumbai will see the opening of the first ever exhibition of William Kentridge’s work in India hosted by Volte Gallery. Of South African descent, Kentridge has exhibited worldwide in major venues such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA in New York. His works mostly deal with subjects of apartheid and colonialism. This show featuring Kentridge’s eight multichannel projection installation, sculptures, drawings, tapestries, videos and prints, promises to be a blockbuster. The exhibition will be on view from February 6 to March 20, 2013.

William Kentrdige @ Volte Gallery

South Asian Contemporary Art at New Zealand’s Govett-Brewster Gallery

Manjari Sihare shares details of a new exhibition of South Asian art at New Zealand’s leading contemporary art museum

New Zealand: The contemporary art museum of New Plymouth in Taranaki, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, is currently hosting the region’s most extensive exhibition of South Asian contemporary art. Sub-Topical Heat: New Art from South Asia features the works of nine artists from the subcontinent, namely Naeem Mohaiemen, Nusra Latif Qureshi, Bani Abidi, Sheba Chhachhi, Raking Leaves, Gigi Scaria, Imran Qureshi, and Sharmila Samant.

Read more about this exhibition.

Govett-Brewster is recognized internationally in the world of contemporary art. In 2009, the Arts Foundation of New Zealand bestowed the Gallery with their prestigious Governors’ Award to acknowledge the institution’s singular commitment to the cause of contemporary art over four decades. Incidentally, this exhibition is not the gallery’s first showcase of art from the Indian subcontinent. In 2009, the Gallery hosted Nalani Malani’s compelling installation, Mother India: Transactions in the Construction of Pain.

Nalini Malani, Mother India: Transactions in the Construction of Pain, 2005 (installation view)
Image courtesy: http://www.govettbrewster.com/Events/EventDetail/e/130/title/nalini-malani.aspx

These exhibitions have been curated by the current Director of the Gallery, Rhana Davenport, a cultural specialist with substantial experience in the field of contemporary art in Asia, the Pacific and Australasia. Davenport is known for her significant experience with international cultural festivals and contemporary art biennial/triennial projects including the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at the Queensland Art Gallery, and the Sydney Festival.

The current exhibition opened earlier this month, and will be on view until 4 November, 2012. Sheba Chhachhi, Gigi Scaria, N.S. Harsha and Sharmila Samant traveled to New Plymouth for the opening of the exhibit. The gallery organized a series of short dialogues between each of these artists and Davenport, which are available for free viewing on Youtube (see links below).

Interview with NS Harsha

Interview with Gigi Scaria

Interview with Sheba Chhachhi

Interview with Sharmila Samant 

%d bloggers like this: