Gigi Scaria Finds Meaning in Endless Landscapes

Elizabeth Prendiville of Saffronart discusses Gigi Scaria’s new exhibition in Melbourne.

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. 

The Sovereign Forest + Other Stories

Ambika Rajgopal of Saffronart shares a note on Amar Kanwar’s show ‘The Sovereign Forest + Other Stories’ at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

London: Amar Kanwar is regarded as India’s foremost contemporary artist. His cinematic focus challenges and redefines the politics of power, violence, sexuality and justice. Fusing the documentary perspective with a unique aesthetic, his work opens out multiple layers of experience and perception. His work has always aimed to expose and shed light on social and political issues that have plagued the Indian subcontinent since the partition.

The Sovereign Forest, 2010-2012, Amar Kanwar. Image Credit:

The Sovereign Forest, 2010-2012, Amar Kanwar. Image Credit:

Yorkshire Sculpture Park will be the host to Amar Kanwar’s first major UK exhibition The Sovereign Forest + Other Stories in October 2013. The Sovereign Forest (2011-) is a conglomerate of films, objects and stories, where each element interacts with the other. It is a body of work that has been done with the collaborative effort from farmers, indigenous tribes, artists and activists in Odisha; and highlights their state of conflict with the government and mining corporations. It has the transformative ability to function as an art installation, a library, a memorial and an archive. 

Farmers and local tribes in the state of Odisha have been in the middle of a clash with government against building open pit bauxite mines. These mines displace forests, agricultural lands, rivers, coastlines, homes and livelihoods of all the agrarian communities who have been forced out of work. The Sovereign Forest has special resonance at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, since it is situated on the Yorkshire coalfields and surrounded by former mining communities.

The Sovereign Forest 2012-, Amar Kanwar. Image Credit:

The Sovereign Forest 2012-, Amar Kanwar. Image Credit:

At the crux of the work is the film The Scene of Crime, which provides us with a vision of the natural landscape of Odisha, prior to its acquisition and division for commercial use. All the images are from land captured by the government and the corporations. It bears testimony to the extent of damage caused due to these mining sites, which strips the local communities of their access to the natural resources.

Some of the other exhibits on display are 272 different varieties of rice seeds brought from the farms of Odisha, which show the disappearance of local crops, and the effect global agriculture has on local organic farmers; and handcrafted books with the text silk screened onto banana fibre paper, which narrate stories that expose the concerns of those affected by the flux of global demands.

The Sovereign Forest in on permanent display at the Samadrusti campus in Bhubanesawar, Odisha. The work is in a state of constant evolution by encouraging visitors to contribute to the evidence presented. The evidence on display includes photographs, lists of residents, land records and tax receipts, proofs of occupancy, maps of acquired villages, documents.

Also on display are The Listening Benches, Kanwar’s first sculptural objects for the open air that are situated around Bothy Garden, situated within the sprawling confines of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. This work is a commission by the artist specially made for the YSP and is made out of the timber of a 19th century organ from the estate chapel. The benches offer a place of quietude and contemplation while overlooking Bretton Estate and coalfields beyond. The work is completed by an audio installation of music, which imparts a voice to the now nonoperational organ.

The show is on view from 11 September 2013 till 2 February 2014.

For more information, please access the website.

Station to Station: A Nomadic Happening

Kanika Pruthi of Saffronart talks about the upcoming Station to Station project that will transport an array of cultural experiences across the United States – on a moving train!

Station to Station- Main Banner

New York: Station to Station is an upcoming experience organized by artist Doug Aitken presenting an amalgam of shows, cultural interventions and site-specific events.  Slated to begin on September 6 2013, a train will travel across the United States of America, from New York City to San Francisco, making nine stops across the country over a period of three weeks. The train is uniquely designed as a moving installation/sculpture and will broadcast an exclusive experience to its audience. For a few days, the train will host a ‘moving’ experience, literally!

Doug Aitken, widely known for his innovative fine art installations, utilizes a wide array of media and artistic approaches, leading the viewers into a world where time, space, and memory are malleable concepts.

At each stop, Station to Station will curate leading figures from the art, music, culinary, literary, and film worlds for a series of events.  The train designed by Aitkin himself will act like a cultural studio- hosting experiences not only at the scheduled stops but also on the moving train.

The project aims at developing an endowment model for the arts given the recent cuts in funding for cultural programs in the United States. A part of the ticket sales will be utilized to support partner institutions and their programs for the year 2014. Station to Station is being made possible by the support and collaboration of the Levi’s® brand.

Artists scheduled to collaborate to bring Station to Station to life include Kenneth Anger, Olaf Breuning,  Peter Coffin,  Urs Fischer, Meschac Gaba, Liz Glynn, Carsten Holler, Christian Jankowski, Aaron Koblin, Ernesto Neto, Jack Pierson, Stephen Shore, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Lawrence Weiner; musicians Ariel Pink, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Connan Mockasin, Dan Deacon, David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors, Eleanor Friedberger, Nite Jewel, No Age, Savages and Twin Shadow; writers Dave Hickey, Barney Hoskyns and Rick Moody; and chefs Alice Waters and Leif Hedendal, and the Edible Schoolyard Project.

According to Molly Logan, the project’s Executive Producer, “Station to Station hopes that this liquid platform will empower the artists to make work that could not be realized elsewhere; the public to discover new artists and cultural expressions; and the museums to reach a global audience and continue to produce pioneering cultural programming.”

Following the cross-country experience, the project will continue to evolve through the museum program, the release of a documentary and a published book. To read more click here.

stART&D: A New Digital Platform for Contemporary Indian Art and Design

Nishad Avari shares a note about this new, exciting initiative, and offers a sneak peek of one of its first projects – a film on Shilpa Gupta’s ‘I Live Under Your Sky Too’

stART&DMumbai: Scheduled to launch later this year, with a host of interesting content focusing on contemporary Indian art, design and culture, stART&D is an inventive, edgy digital platform created by Anita Horam and Mozez Singh that will promote, produce and present all forms of arts and design that  represent “India cool”. stART&D promises a digital magazine, public exhibitions and more through Indian and international collaborations and partnership programs.

Their first project is a video presentation on the public installation of Shilpa Gupta’s site specific animated light work, ‘I Live Under Your Sky Too’, in Mumbai. This project was curated by Diana Campbell of the Creative India Foundation, who is also one of our guest bloggers.

Gupta’s piece was first installed in front of the Arabian Sea at Carter Road in Bandra, Mumbai, and is currently on view in the courtyard of Phoenix Mills mall at Lower Parel, Mumbai. First created in 2011, this piece has been exhibited at indoor and outdoor locations around the world, including in the exhibition ‘All You Need is Love’ at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo this year.

Here is stART&D’s video on the installation:


Stay tuned for more information on stART&D.

To learn more about Shilpa Gupta’s installation, see the Creative India Foundation website and their Facebook page.

%d bloggers like this: