Tag Archives: ART

Longing for the World: A Memoir of Two Days at the Kochi Biennale

[Disclaimer: I am not an art critic, artist, or travelled in the world of art. This is just a memoir]

(I)

Fort Kochi, 9 Feb. 2017

Though I had already been to the biennale in January and had a roaring time, something kept urging me to go there again. That something, I believe, is my insatiable imagination – which has always had a life of its own as long as I can remember, needs to be fed all the time, and actually drives me crazy. But maybe I should be thankful: if I survive this loveless existence that is my life, it is because my imagination has always spirited me away even from the midst of the worst emotional violence and uproar. Social theorists who use trickster figures or such characters as Daedalus who give power the slip, or manipulate it to their own ends, are probably saying the same thing.

The only ‘Moral Science’ lesson I remember from school was from the fourth standard, about the invisible guardian angel who supposedly protected us from evil. What intrigued me was the suggestion that each of us had a special angel-companion of our own who was ever-present though invisible – quite a lovely idea to a lonely child who found it hard to blend and settle into her playmates’ world. For me that was the unseen power which transformed a boring class into a musical concert by playing music inside my head; wove words and images into tales there; scared me sometimes, but equally let me exorcise the fear; and led me to all sorts of nooks and corners in the house and the yard and showed me all sorts of things, almost a world that I, but no one else, could see.

I pulled myself out of the world of research that employed, that did not satisfy, my imagination, and went again to the biennale. Two golden days! No words exist to reveal how my heart sang at the prospect. And besides, I was going to stay with dear, beloved friends, people who lived steeped in imagination – unlike me, whose current existence involved the use of the imagination (though it can never be mastered fully for sure) in a self-conscious way. My friends who run a little homestay near Fort Kochi reach out to others with extraordinary warmth mainly because, I think, their world is so incredibly diverse – populated by not just all sorts of diverse human beings, (rich, poor, high, low, of different faiths and castes, related by marriage, friendship, acquaintance, country-cousinship, common humanity, vague feelings of familiarity and so on), but also by spirits, saints, gods, all of who are felt and reached. Continue reading Longing for the World: A Memoir of Two Days at the Kochi Biennale

Alchemies of Art and Resistance in Kashmir

Bertolt Brecht, was to write

“In the dark times

Will there also be singing?

Yes, there will also be singing.

About the dark times.”

Violence, persistent and unending, creates an alternative reality, a festering, perverted, horrible, surreal reality. Violence, unending and unrelenting erases all memories of times past, Memories of times when another reality existed, It is this alternative reality that begins to redefine imagery, ideas, sensibilities and begins to creates a new grotesque discourse, a discourse in which the ugly face of fear and death becomes the normative. I’ll give you one example of how this works. Continue reading Alchemies of Art and Resistance in Kashmir

Appeal by the Striking Students of Delhi College of Art – Students of Delhi College of Art and Ambedkar University, Delhi

Guest Post by Students of Delhi College of Art, with a statement in solidarity by students of  Ambedkar University, Delhi (Department of Visual Arts)

[ This post compiles communications sent out by students of the College of Art, Delhi, their charter of demands (which include very basic and fundamental demands – and it is indeed a revelation that students have to resort to a strike to get this charter even noticed) and a letter in solidarity (see end of the post) with the College of Art students from Students of the Department of Visual Arts, Ambedkar University, Delhi. We are posting this to continue to bring to attention the condition of students of art, media and film in the country. Kafila has already posted articles on the conditions of the students of the Film & Television Institute of India. This post also needs to be seen in the context of the recent statement by the Minister of Culture, Government of India, about ‘cultural pollution’. Clearly, the rot is within institutions, and has not been caused, as the minister seems to think, by the ‘encroachment of Western culture’. We hope that this series of posts can contribute to a real debate about the state of art, culture and cultural institutions in India and the rest of South Asia. ]

Students of College of Art, New Delhi have been on strike for last thirteen days. The strike had to happen, when the individual voice of art students in the college was ignored and suppressed for years. This bundling up of dissent was inevitable.

Continue reading Appeal by the Striking Students of Delhi College of Art – Students of Delhi College of Art and Ambedkar University, Delhi

मई दिवस और गणपति

मई दिवस और गणपति में सम्बन्ध ही क्या हो सकता है? दोनों की न तुक मिलती है और न ही अनुप्रास की छटा दोनों के पासपास होने से बिखरती है. फिर गणपति  शुद्ध हिन्दू देवता हैं, गणेश चतुर्थी के अवसर पर तो उनका नामजाप समझ में आता है, लकिन मई दिवस पर उनका आह्वान? इससे बड़ा दूषण हो ही नहीं सकता और इसका दंड उन्हें तो किसी न किसी रूप में भुगतना ही पड़ेगा. सो हुआ.

सती  अनामंत्रित अपने पिता दक्ष के घर गई थीं  और अपमान न सह पाने के कारण उन्हें यज्ञ वेदी में ही कूद कर जल  मरना पड़ा . किसी भी जगह बिन बुलाए  नहीं जाना चाहिए, इसकी सीख देने के लिए   यह कथा वे  सुनाते हैं जिन्हें इस समय भी कुछ कथाएँ याद रह गयी हैं. निश्चय ही त्रिथा को यह प्रसंग या तो पता न होगा या वे इसे भूल गईं जब मई दिवस पर जवाहरलाल नेहरु विश्वविद्यालय में  एक वामपंथी छात्र संगठन द्वारा आयोजित एक संगीत संध्या में मंच पर वे  अनामंत्रित गाने चली गईं. एक तो वे स्वयं अनपेक्षित , अतः किंचित अस्वस्तिकर उपस्थिति थीं , दूसरे आयोजकों और श्रोताओं  को , जो मई दिवस पर संघर्ष और क्रान्ति के जुझारू गीत सुन कर अपने शरीर के भीतर जोश  भरने आये थे इसकी आशंका थी कि वे इस पवित्र अवसर पर जाने  क्या गा देंगी. और आखिरकार  उन्होंने इस आशंका को सही साबित कर दिया, जब वे शास्त्रीय संगीत के नाम पर वक्रतुंड, महाकाय …. गाने लगीं. थोड़ी देर पहले जो  सैकड़ों शरीर हिल्लेले हिलोर दुनिया पर झूम रहे थे, उनसे नहींनहीं का शोर उठा. इस छात्र जनता के नेता जनभावना का आदर करते हुए मंच पर पहुंचे और त्रिथा को अपना गाना बीच में रोक कर मंच से जाना पड़ा. Continue reading मई दिवस और गणपति

Of SubTerrains and Seismology: Notes on the Contemporaneous in India

Guest post by MOHD. SABIH AHMED

Of SubTerrains and Seismology: Notes on the Contemporaneous in India [1]

If the starting point of an enquiry is to investigate into the larger ambit of cultural production in which a notional unity of ‘contemporary art’ is one formation, the study of alternative systems/networks/formations would not suffice merely as mapping them as ‘alternative art’ in the same field. Instead, the demand would be to trace the contexts that give rise to a necessity for peculiar and disparate kinds of alternatives, and how certain cases instigate the field, maybe even risk rearranging the very conceptual and pragmatic constituents of that field.

This paper is a series of ponderings, questions, and a hesitant proposition regarding the above-mentioned, as much as it is an exposition on the state of affairs of that notional unity that is ‘Contemporary Art in India’. Continue reading Of SubTerrains and Seismology: Notes on the Contemporaneous in India

Asim Butt (1978-2010)

Self-portrait as Christ. 1998. Oil on board, paper, and wax palimpsest.

Karachi-basd artist Asim Butt committed suicide yesterday by hanging himself to death. He was only 31, and his work made waves. Part of the Stuckist art movement, he made figurative paintings, most notably a series of seven portraying a dog’s carcass. He was also a graffiti artist, painting red the walls of Karachi. His best known graffiti work was the eject symbol painted all over towards the end of General Musharraf’s rule.

Read this moving tribute by a journalist friend and this one with a lot of links at Stuckism.com. You can pay homage here, but most of all, see his pictures and paintings on his own Facebook profile.

As one of the tributes on Facebook reads, good people die early.

Surrogacy Politics: Imrana Qadeer & Mary E. John

This guest post has been sent by IMRANA QADEER and MARY E. JOHN

Surrogacy is suddenly front-page news. First there was the uncertain future of baby Manji, following the divorce of her Japanese commissioning parents; then the happy pictures of an Israeli gay couple with their son born to a Bombay-based surrogate mother. India is becoming a cheap location for foreigners wanting to use ‘assisted reproductive technologies’ (ART) and local clinics are promoting surrogacy arrangements because they are seen as lucrative ventures. While there is hardly any public debate on the ethical, social, epidemiological and medical questions around infertility and surrogacy, the extremely problematic ART Regulatory Bill (2008) is being hurried through. It barely addresses important concerns and ignores national health and population norms. It permits, for instance, three surrogate pregnancies to a woman.

Continue reading Surrogacy Politics: Imrana Qadeer & Mary E. John