Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Its a boys game when size matters!!!

Travelling to Delhi recently, I visited a number of exhibitions that provoked responses, thoughts and ideas that I have been mulling over. For quite a while I have been discussing with curators and artist colleagues, the need for us to assess the methods and rationale of our curatorial practices; as well as the directions we are pointing/placing ourselves towards/in, vis a vis attitudes and representations, both nationally and globally.

I must start off by saying that I am delighted that the Lalit Kala Akademi has thrown open its doors to entertaining private galleries using its premises. I completely endorse this and it brings great hope for new policies to revamp the institution of the Lalik Kala; and with it for us to upgrade our understanding of the co-existence of public and private sectors working together. Having said this I hope that our joy of this does not diminish the space of critical discourse; believing therefore that our gratitude to see change disallows us to further problematize where we need to.

Therefore from the logic of this position I will put forward observations from the exhibition Against All Odds, currently on view at the LKA in Delhi, which appear rather lacking in the standard of expectations one has of curatorial endeavours of investigation. The idea of archiving as a framework through which to address the intentions of this compilation of work, seems rather stretched in some instances; and the very idea itself appears rather borrowed. The apparent need to still clutch at the flag of "avante garde" and hold it hostage in meaning to become represented by materials and methodolgies of thought that subscribe to a very narrow interpretation of contextualized/historisized/political/gender issue/radical/mediative visual articulation, seems to in fact reinvent conservative attitudes unknowingly.

Big, bigger, biggest should really be the title of this show! The laughter club of N.S Harsha actually brought tears of mortification to me! What sorrow that we loose our ability to comprehend how to negotiate the territory of communication as artists in a public domain, and stand accountable to its immense responsibility. Vivan Sunderam's work too felt so contrived.

On the other hand, Bose Krishnamachari's LAVA is one of my all time favourite works because it makes the across-over into a real existence, playing with the notions of archiving so very effortlessly; and the playfulness with a borrowed concept is not disguised but instead celebrated in its new avaatar of disemination with no apologies made.

Archana Hande and Nikhil Chopra's work has a been-there-done-it feel, and it leaves you with a sense of de ja vou that is really frustrating. Ideas of self identity and colonial angst have already been worked with extensively and their work looks imitative and repetitive. Reinventing the wheel?! Well what can one really say.

The one artist who should have rightfully been in this show was Nalini Malani. Where was she?!

I found the work of Vivek Vilasini the most compelling. A quiet arrangement of photographs of the brightly painted houses in Kerala, beautifully arranged at the corner of two walls. Understated, it provides a relief to the over pretentiousness of much of the work in this show.

I have always said that Arshiya Lokhandwala's gallery Lakeeren, that she operated from 1995 to 2003, was one of the most impactful spaces in India; and that her position as an cultural interventionist was greatly valued. I hope that she realigns herself to a space of faith within herself and is not guided by the dictates of other's, as it may appear to be this case, but reconnects to believe in her own vision and insightfulness. As an admirer of hers, I wish her lots of luck and await with anticipation for a more truthful and precious space of curatorial deliverance from her.
Photograph taken by me in the Stanford Museum USA

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