Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Please don't waste our time....!

Dynastic tendencies are dangerous in any democratic space and when it shows up in the art world it becomes a dodgy area where critique gets put aside and family pride takes center stage instead. Perhaps it is time therefore that Chintan Upadhaya takes a small step back and considers that this may be one of the flaws of a rather tragic-comic artists initiative that Surendran and I attended yesterday, organised and funded by Sandarbh and presented at Monolith Studio in Baroda. The event showcased the most sub-standard and shabby work under the pretext of "presenting the banal for investigation". Cousins galore were in attendance to show off their skills as artists and performers, and the pride of the village will certainly run high, but does it amount to an art endeavour of merit? Absolutely not. And what a waste of funds when the art world has so many students and emerging artists who could put such aid to much better use. But then that's far too banal perhaps for the cutting edge organisers?!

Boring and vacuous, the artworks from this workshop show no contextual basis that could validate the rehashing of old ideas (if I see one more toilet vessel I think I will actually commit hara kiri!), and little evidence of the simplest comprehension of art history is seen amidst all the posturing in the guise of "experimenting". One of the coordinator's, Shreyas Karle, further compounded the meaninglessness of the event with his insolent disregard to offer any accountability to an audience and thought he was putting me in my place (!!) with his arrogant insistence that any rubbish merits a hoopla, and if called art by him then art it must be! On entering Surendran's first reaction was "why have I come. What a criminal waste of my time"!

Attempting to view the event with more compassion I tried to initiate some dialogues that could address issues such as the dilemma of presenting tribal interventions within urban situations in a manner that does not further marginalise, trivialise or exotisize it. I also suggested the need to talk about knowing the history of conceptual/experimental art when employing its language so that the final outcome does not become so ludicrously simplistic because of the apparent ignorance related to understanding the territory of articulation you are identifying with.

There was however no space within this forum to have any interjection of an intellectual nature and Mr. Shreyas Karle instead informed me rather high-handedly that no one was invited to view this as art (!) and that it was just fun ! Well baby next time don't waste my time with printed invitation cards hand-delivered to my doorstep with a clown in tow (actually!), and then inform me that "Sandarbh artists initiative of a sculpture and site specific workshop" is not a presentation of art! If its just a circus you want then call it that and be done with it. Art workshops are spaces of meaningful mediation where wonderfully charged ideas are born, and Khoj and Open Circle have documented the purposefulness that such collective collaborations yield. So let's see you all grow up and stop the game playing of naivety where every idiotic thing does not get the "wow factor" merely to console your fragile egos! The art world has high standards so buckle down to realising this!

That some of the organisers and most of the artists from the workshop were completely out of their depth in understanding how this wonderful opportunity could have been utilised was clear to see. Desperate attempts to pass it off as avant garde and therefore pull the wool over an unsuspecting audience was one of the most disrespectful situation I have encountered in a long time. However the Baroda Art college should truly celebrate this initiative. A track record of mediocrity is finally paying off! Today this is our art heritage and buddy am I glad I was not born into this generation who wear their stupidity with such elan, and do not figure out how foolish they appear! What a tragedy. What a loss. But does anyone even care!

(art work : Preyas from Bangalore and Siddharth from Baroda.)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rekha,
    I dont know how to congratulate you! The otherday, even before seeing this blog entry I was talking to a friend of mine about the direction that Sandarbh is taking.
    By default I too am a Sandarbh Volunteer. But it was when Sandarbh had a purpose.
    This year, I followed Sandarbh through the pictures posted in the FaceBook by one of the organizers.
    I found the gravity of discourse missing and every trivia is performed as a photo op. It may be wrong to make a harsh judgement from my side as I was not personally present there. But the pics were really irritating one's minimum level of intelligence.
    I am planning to tell Chintan that things are not going in the right direction as far as Sandarbh is concerned.
    I dont know Chintan wants it to be his family property (related to his cousins and his village). But as much as I know those boys are reallly well meaning people from the village. Yatin used to be a social worker and a street performer. And he used to do excellent job in Sandarbh when it was Partapur bound. Now it seems that he is dragged into cities, where a different art parlance is now in fad. I am sure Yatin wouldn't be coping up with it.
    Lochan is MSU educated. He is a good guy. But mob psychology can ruin people.
    Though your words are quite direct and harsh (I am sure you have earned your right to be harsh on this scene) I believe that the Sandarbh organizers should take your words in the right spirit and do a soul searching.
    I agree with your comments.

    best regards