Clark House Initiative (Bombay) presents L’exigence de la saudade at the Kadist Art Foundation, Paris

Padmini Chettur, choreography notes for 'Pushed' 2005-6 Image courtesy: Clark House Initiative, Bombay

Padmini Chettur, choreography notes for ‘Pushed’ 2005-6
Image courtesy: Clark House Initiative, Bombay

Manjari Sihare shares details of an exhibit that opened today at the Kadist Art Foundation in Paris

Paris: Mumbai’s Clark House Initiative opened an exhibition entitled L’exigence de la saudade at the Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, today. The exhibition is curated by Zasha Colah and Sumesh Sharma who are currently curators in residence at the Kadist Art Foundation. Quoting the show’s press release, “the exhibition brings together three artists from distant geographies within India – Padmini Chettur, a contemporary dancer, Prajakta Potnis, a visual artist, and Zamthingla Ruivah, a master weaver, whose works are conceptually engaged with remnant cultural forms, not as endangered traditions, rather to reinvent them in the present. These reinventions spring from the exigencies of political anguish, or the scouring for identities and representations, after the violence of cultural amnesia, experienced over the numbing of years as a kind of saudade. These artists create a complex backdrop of the Indian subcontinent, too culturally conjoined to other geographies for any sense of the nation to arise. In this word saudade, as in the name ‘Bombay’ (bom baía), is heard the persistence of a Portuguese past. Exigency and saudade, retain the tension of opposites; the consciousness of the past in the present, which permits the envisaging of what is still to come.”

Padmini Chettur was trained in a tradition of dance, revived in the 1930s after a century of forced amnesia. She displaces the choreographic tradition to a minimalistic language, which visually translates philosophical concepts of time and space as they relate to contemporary experience. The sculptural reliefs of lace and light, realised in situ by Prajakta Potnis come out of her observation of fissures or peeling walls, as witnesses of the social imaginary of the people who live within them. Zamthingla Ruivah revives the tradition of weaving, from the north-east of India, to narrate the events of a community. However, the stories she puts into geometric form, testify to a brutal political history.

In the exhibition, the works will be in dialogue with those of certain Indian artists who were living in Paris in May 1968. Nalini Malani described her time in Paris as a ‘prise de conscience’. She lends to the exhibition a small papier mache head, ‘For the Dispossessed’ made in Paris in 1971, out of the vivid pages of Le Nouvel Observateur, and referencing photographs of refugees fleeing the genocide during the Bangladesh Liberation War. The head also references what was happening in Paris at the time, demonstrations for Angela Davis, and protests of the Vietnam War. ‘Demonstrators’ a sculpture by Krishna Reddy, is an eidetic memory of students outside his window in Paris in 1968. The last is a series of sketches made in Paris that year, by the polymath artist and magician Jean Bhownagary. Certain cues and gestures – of dance, theatre, magic or music – can come close to those used in protest marches, and fall under social engagement, as much as art. The exhibition intertwines artistic practice with historical contexts, to understand the manoeuvring possibilities of culture.

Details of the exhibit:

L’exigence de la saudade 
Friday 17 May, 6-9pm: opening of the exhibition at Kadist Art Foundation – Gallery
dates and hours: 18 May – 28 July 2013 | Thur-Sun 2-7pm
Kadist Art Foundation, 19 bis-21 rue des Trois Frères, F-75018 Paris.
tél. +33 1 42 51 83

Padmini Chettur, Prajakta Potnis, Zamthingla Ruivah

With the participation of: Jean Bhownagary, Tyeb Mehta, Nalini Malani, Krishna Reddy, Maarten Visser

Cues: Yogesh Barve, Judy Blum, Sachin Bonde, Poonam Jain, Mangesh Kapse,
Carla Montenegro, Amol Patil, Nikhil Raunak, Amrita Sher-Gil, Alexandre Singh
in a place hidden: Prabhakar Pachpute in the public realm: Justin Ponmany