New York: Kothanalloor-based artist Gigi Scaria is currently presenting his exhibition “Dust” at the Ian Potter Museum of Art in Melbourne. The works included were created specifically for the Ian Potter Museum and take the artist on new levels of his craft. Scaria focuses on the desolate desert of India’s border with Pakistan. This is a controversial, but primarily empty and fruitless geographic space.
Prior to the exhibition Scaria traveled to the Thar Desert and found the beautiful nuances of this natural wasteland for his photographs. The desert terrain turned out to have more to offer than simply dust and sand manipulated by the wind. Salt marshes, small patches of plant life and various mineral formations presented themselves. The artist utilizes the non-descript quality of this space, elements of this environment have a universal quality. It is not innately obvious in his photographs where this land is; it could be in any country or perhaps be the remote terrain of another planet. Scaria’s utilization of these spaces is centered on his belief that non-identifiable spaces will leave room for the engagement of viewers. While only leaving hints of a physical space the works offers opportunity for true memories and fantasy. Scaria’s work not only brings a viewer into this remote geographical space but also prompts meaning and emotions to animate the endless landscape.
“Dust” includes three levels of video, photography and installation work. Although this type of work is a bit of an offshoot from his typical technique, his artist process is present in the way he honors the original image yet manipulates it ever so slightly for the viewer. Prior to this exhibition he was one of the five artists to represent India in the Venice Biennale in 2011. He was also a 2012 University of Melbourne MacGeorge Fellow. “Dust” will be at the Ian Potter Museum of Art well into the new year, wrapping up on March 16th. Art enthusiasts in visiting Melbourne in the coming months should definitely experience Scaria’s “Dust”. For more information please visit the Ian Potter Museum website.
Aaina Bhargava of Saffronart on Citizen – Artist 2013, the second exhibition in a series of five in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Chemould Prescott Gallery.
K. Madhusudhanan, History is a Silent Film, 2007, Sinle projection with sound, Variable dimension. Image Credit: http://www.gallerychemould.com/uploads/exhibitions/k_madhusudan_copy1.jpg
London: September 2013 – April 2014 has and will be an exciting time at Chemould Prescott Gallery, Mumbai. Curating five exhibitions during this time frame, Geeta Kapur depicts an extremely evolved contemporary Indian art scene with Citizen – Artist (Oct.14th – Nov. 15th 2013), mirroring the growth and expansion of Chemould Prescott as a gallery. The first exhibition in the series, Subject of Death, was in remembrance of Bhuppen Kakkar, the groundbreaking painter supported by Chemould at the beginning of his career, with this particular exhibition opening on his 10th death anniversary, as well as an ode to the late Kekoo Gandhy, founder of Chemould Prescott in 1963. The second – Citizen Artist deals with notions and definitions of citizenship, nations and borders, the exhibition features works by Inder Salim, K. Madhusudhanan, Tushar Joag, CAMP, Gigi Scaria, Ram Rahman, Shilpa Gupta, Rashid Rana, Atul Dodiya, Jitish Kallat, Raqs Media Collective, Gauri Gill and Arunkumar HG.
Each work is deeply engaged with the implications of citizenship in a contemporary globalised world. For instance, in Shilpa Gupta’s 1278 unmarked, 28 hours by foot via National Highway No1, East of the Line of Control 2013, she places a graveyard in the middle of the gallery, and creates an index of people who are considered martyrs by their families, but are buried namelessly, questioning the ethics (or lack thereof) of citizenship in Kashmir.
Shilpa Gupta 2013 1278 unmarked, 28 hours by foot via National Highway No1, East of the Line of Control. Image Credit: http://www.gallerychemould.com/uploads/exhibitions/shilpa_gupta_5_copy3.jpg
Circadian Rhyme, 2 & 3 (2012-2013), by Jitish Kallat involves miniature crafted-figures staged in a line on a ledge, to depict scenes from everyday travels such as airport security checks, immigration queues etc. In detail, one figure is performing a security ‘pat down’ on another, seemingly commenting on the increase in accessibility of global travel, but the costs and troubles of crossing borders that go with it. The greater accessibility is increasing the crowds, risks, and precautionary measures.
Jitish Kallat Circadian Rhyme, 2 & 3, 2012-2013 24 figures (resin, paint, aluminium and steel) 50 x 180 x 15 in. Image Credit: http://www.gallerychemould.com/uploads/exhibitions/jitish_kallat_2_copy1.jpg
Jitish Kallat Circadian Rhyme, 2 & 3, 2012-2013 24 figures (resin, paint, aluminium and steel) 50 x 180 x 15 in. Image Credit: http://www.gallerychemould.com/uploads/exhibitions/jitish_kallat_3_copy1.jpg
Rashid Rana’s Crowd is thematically similar, and is composed of three photo prints on wallpaper involving digitally spliced and manipulated images. An intense reproduction a mixed population people is projected onto the wallpaper focusing on the loss of identity and individuality in very populous.
Installation of Rashid Rana’s Crowd (2013) in Chemould Prescott Gallery, Offset print on wallpaper. Image Credit: http://www.gallerychemould.com/exhibitions-works/citizen-artist-2013/rashid-rana-50-years-chemould.html
Raqs Media Collective’s animated video projection loop, The Untold Intimacy of Digits (UID) (2011), is an image of the handprint of a 19th century Bengali peasant, Raj Konai, which was taken by British colonial officials in 1858, and then sent to Britain. Fingerprinting technologies were developed from experiments based on this image. The Unique Identification Database (UID – same as the title) is a new project initiated by the Indian government in attempts to properly account for, and index its’ population. This work poses an interesting juxtaposition of India’s colonial past and current day attempts to account for citizens.
Raqs Media Collective, UID Installation View. Image Credit: http://www.gallerychemould.com/uploads/exhibitions/raqs_1_copy1.jpg
Raqs Media Collective, The Untold Intimacy of Digits (UID). Projection, video loop (1”), 2011. Image Credit: http://www.gallerychemould.com/uploads/exhibitions/raqs_2_copy1.jpg
These are a few amongst many other multi medium and media works that dwell on various aspects of citizenship and certainly don’t seem to be in an aesthetic bind. The third and next installment in the Aesthetic Bind series to look out for is Phantomata (Nov. 29, 2013 – Jan 03, 2014) participating artists include: Tallur L N, Susanta Mandal Sonia Khurana, Nikhil Chopra, Tushar Joag, Pushpamala N, Baiju Parthan, and Pratul Dash. For more information visit about the exhibitions visit Chemould Prescott Gallery website.
London: Starting from August 27, Latitude 28 presents Diver-Cities II. This exhibition is a celebration of cultural and urban diversities within India.
Baiju Parthan, End of Season, 2012. Image Credit: http://www.latitude28.com/index.php/works/newarrival/794
Eleven contemporary artists from different parts of India have been tasked to reflect on the idea of ‘city’ and its related concepts such as identity and globalization. Their works have then been brought together in one single exhibition to present their different interpretations and contemporary art practices.
Sunil Khilnani in The Idea of India noted: ‘India’s cities are hinges between its vast population spread across the countryside and the hectic tides of global economy, with its ruthlessly shifting tastes and its ceaseless murmur of the pleasures and hazards of modernity. This three-cornered relationship decisively moulds India’s future economic, cultural and political possibilities. The demographic drift across the world is unstoppably towards the urban.’ ‘Modern India’s political and economic experiences have coincided most dramatically in its cities – symbols of the uneven, hectic and contradictory character of the nation’s modem life. From the ancient sacred space of Benares to the decaying colonial pomp of Calcutta, from the high rationalism of Chandigarh to the software utopia of Bangalore, from Bombay’s uneasy blend of parochial politics and cosmopolitan to the thrusting new cities of the north. The evident urban disjuncture’s have enlivened distinct political sentiments. The real and imagined experience of the city has individually and together reconstituted both the nature and the range of the selves, the ‘identities’ that Indians can call their own.’
Praneet Soi, The Dream, 2008. Image Credit: http://www.latitude28.com/index.php/works/newarrival/803
For more information on the exhibition click here.
Mumbai: Created by the artist, Reena Kallat and curated by the Bhau Daji Lad Museum in collaboration with ZegnArt/Public, this impressive ‘Untitled’ installation captures the viewers’ attention at once. Several rows of over sized rubber stamps form a cobweb covering the entire facade of the colonial era museum. Instantly invoking ideas of bureaucracy and the passage of time, each stamp on the web bears on it the name of a street which has been changed in the city of Mumbai as part of the renaming and decolonizing of the city. Like the museum itself, originally named the Victoria and Albert Museum, the city of Mumbai as well as the country as a whole has undergone a reclaiming of public spaces through the renaming of institutions, roads and even entire cities.
Reena Kallat’s installation,“Untitled (Cobwebs/Crossings)” at Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum
Kallat is able to visually recreate the cobwebs of the past that continue to crowd our spaces, and will eventually be forgotten with the passage of time. Kallat’s project was chosen from a group of seven artist’s proposals including projects from Gigi Scaria, Hema Upadhyay and Sakshi Gupta by the curators of the museum and ZegnArt Public. A separate gallery space gives visitors an opportunity to see the proposals for projects that might have been.
Reena Kallat’s installation at Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (detail)
A gargantuan effort, this project ties into the Museum’s focus on the contemporary. Under director Tasneem Mehta, the museum has been host to a series of curated exhibitions in which contemporary artists are invited to respond to the Museum’s collections. Among several artists who have exhibited here are this year’s Skoda Prize winner, LN Tallur, Ranjani Shettar and Sudarshan Shetty.
Reena Kallat’s installation at Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (detail)
The collective Sahmat was created in 1989 in memory of Safdar Hashmi and against political violence. Sahmat stands for Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust and it also means “in agreement” in Hindi. Hashmi was an activist, playwright and actor who was killed by a group of political thugs while he was performing in a street play called Halla Bol! (raise your voice) during the municipal election outside Delhi. Since its creation Sahmat used different forms of art to discuss political and social problems following Hashmi’s footsteps.
Sahmat believes that art, being a very immediate and accessible medium of expression, can stimulate change, and can positions itself against religious fundamentalism and sectarianism, or so-called ‘communalism’. Its principles are to defend freedom of expression and fight against political intolerance. People from any background, religion and age can participate in the several projects by the collective that celebrate cultural diversity, communal harmony and democratic ideals.
This is an exhibition not to be missed, and a great example of the power of art to affect change.
More information on the exhibition can be found here, and you can also view some of the tributes made to M.F. Husain by Sahmat below.