There is still such a dearth of accomplished material available on contemporary art and culture in our country. Efforts have been made to publish books on contemporary art by galleries and specialised publishing houses. However all this remains mostly within elite areas of cultural consumption and very little inroads have been made to understand where to identify public need for information about art and culture, and how best to provide it to such varied audiences.
I have a friend who tried to get a television series on artists made, but hey (!) there are no big prizes in guessing the final outcome for sponsorship or interest in such a project. The idea was soon mooted down mostly because of the severe interference of a television channel that "sort of dabbled" with the idea of being the prompters of this concept yet placed incompetent people to handle the collaboration. The viability to make such a project work requires not just on the financial investment, but equally on mindsets that see the necessity of such information as vital to a society at large, and desires to make the effort to address the need.
Surendran and I have a Sunday program at home where young artist friends and those under our guidance, watch a film or documentary as part of the structure of that day. Yesterday we viewed the season four of art:21. This is a series of interviews that document the ideas and works of individual artists of the 21st century, sometimes placing them within certain paradigms of shared intentions which creates a relationship between the different /separate interviews.
What is brilliant about this series is that it is so simple. No great glorification is positioned nor does it suggest a feeling that it is 'tailored" to any programmed agenda. It merely offers the viewer a "close up" into the space of thinking of the artist through extremely well edited conversations that are crisp, and as a result are compelling and impactful. The brevity of each segment is designed to showcase the artist with supreme clarity, and avoids the cliches of panning camera angles and other inconsequential "dramas" of posing artists in reverie!
I remember being horrified when I viewed a film that had been made on Manjit Bawa, where his love story became the crass crux of the film, reducing this potent and brilliant artist into a figure of ridicule for many and leaving his many well wishers deeply saddened that such an opportunity had been wasted at the alter of naive agendas.
I hope a time does occur where the visibility of art and artists in India is correctly presented in spaces such as the media; and taken seriously. Where investment of time and content is well researched so that the target objective of deseminating information is achieved. It is high time that we accord art and culture it's rightful status within society and not merely confine it to the "after hours" cliche of television drivel that seems it's present fate, if ever focused upon. Good interviewing is seen in the area of films on television, but little else comes up to standard in other areas of creative/cultural expression.
Maybe industrial houses like the Godrej's and Mallaya's can be approached to become ambassadors to set the path of a new trend, where well defined documentation of art and cultural sees the light of day in India. I have my fingers crossed!