Sunday, 29 May 2011

Creating a new Gender politics

Proclamations to legitimize the gay act in India completely disturbed the social belief in relationships. Away from the gender boundaries it also negotiates free (free from social norms) relationships. Lesbianism and gay culture somehow fortifies feminist activisms in India. Unfortunately sometimes, “homosexuality”, becomes a glamorous or intellectual term. But we should realise that a person doesn’t need any intellectual ideology or philosophy to lead his/her life as homosexuals. The strong terminating hatred of our society against homosexuality leads a person who believes in that, to take up activism. And people who write and work on it are often labeled in the society as feminist, homosexuals, etc. 

Pallavi Singh is a" notorious" personality among peers. She holds a wonderful studio in Khoj with wide long windows, one that opens to the street and other that opens into the inner courtyard. She showed her works one night and for a while I felt tired. But slowly, they started to hit the social reality of sexuality and gender without any concession of philosophizing and shame. Her autoerotic men and moral women ask enough controversial questions. The intrusion shown in her works is a dogged entering of one’s existence and questioning their right to live. The sexual appetite of old men who try to be an innocent kids, wrapped in humor and sarcasm make the viewer laugh but catalyze the fact - civilization is a lie, nothing more!
The works begin to doubt the universal validity of male gaze- whether the gaze is always male or whether it is merely dominant among the range of different gazes including female gaze? It fortifies a new class of people who enjoy companies of both genders. Although most of her old works show certain kind of feminism by discussing the way women are looked at in a patriarchal society, she has recently radically moved to a different perspective and is questioning the established institutions of society regarding gender, sexual relationships and marriage.

These are Pallavi`s earlier works.

Auto Ride, Acrylic On Canvas,48"x60"

Gossip, Mixmedia On Paper,48"x72"

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Thinking About Concept

Unfortunately the popular term in the art world, “concept note”, by itself is sometimes disgusting and sounds like a ready made stuff that one should carry with them to vomit anywhere. In practice many times the concept develops with work of art itself because the way you display might change the entire concept of your work. Till this day all the evenings go with frantic visualizations of works and criticisms amongst the peers. It’s easier to figure out what kind of work a person is doing and the ideologies one has, but it can entirely change while materializing or make use of the faculties of sound, video, performance and light. Things are changing sometimes, accidental or by deep contemplation. The most interesting attitude I found in this residency is opening up to each ones visualization and ideas about others works. This platform you might not get in a college studio or in gallery shows.

 I often go to Aarti`s studio to see her sketches and to discuss them. I found them interesting only because it doesn’t need any explanation. The way she discusses the condition of being uncomfortable while waiting for something is vibrant and poking . It questions the physical and mental existence of humans strongly with very minimal forms. While talking to her about her sketches closely, I feel she is working site specifically; she might correlate the plain wall in front of her and the struggling of existence in a truly slippery area.
Working with the real space will be challenging for her. How to use the real space and how to make it a part of the work. How to relate the real object with the idea, without losing its existence. It’s very difficult to solve these confusions because this is the matter of co- existence of different objects, rather than putting a new `work’ inside the gallery. So her sketches can be seen as a part of exploring every aspect of the studio space. Sometimes experimentation will throw you into hell but it will give you more pleasure than anything else in this world.
Aarti Sunder is from Tamil Nadu and  we used to talk about the refugee camps filled with the Sri Lankan Tamilians, their existence, their struggle for identity and the government`s filthy cold silence regarding this group of people who look similar and talk the same language as “Tamilians of India”.
I think Aarti`s works respond to these human issues -
What do the well-established so–called nations think about thousands of refugees? Are they filthy junk? Don’t have children to bring up? Artists should be aware about what’s happening to humanity and try to shift the focus to marginalized peripheries. Select and frame them.

Waiting for tea: Aarti and I went to Kotla to buy some wires and i took this photograph while we wait for  tea.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Pseudo- culture/ Trans - culture/ Authentic culture

The Urban Village is the challenging subject I encounter first in Delhi. Khirkee village , the place where the residency program going on is widely accepted as an urban village crowded with a huge variety of people, Africans, Biharies (mainly the construction workers), urban and semi- urban mass . The jammed pocket roads are the play grounds of children live here, instead of public space or pedestrianization - which are the characteristic of an urban village in theory. Introduction of three posh Malls just opposite to this urban village looks ironical and intolerable which questioning the rationality of the, political economical and cultural climate of our country. Many cultural organizations and multinational companies are tactfully using the connotative meaning of the label- urban village, equally. Which produce a horrible junk in our society – pseudo- culture.

Each week almost a billion of people consume the pseudo- cultural products offered by movie theaters, FM stations and televisions. This dissemination of the pseudo- cultural product, whom does it benefit or harm? Who stands to lose or gain from it? This kind of pseudo- economic and cultural condition, glosses over the most profound human problems, concealing their underlying real and living contradictions.

The consumer has nothing to gain from this pseudo – cultural consumption, since all it does is confirm ones abstract, refined human existence, and prevent from establishing the sort of relationship required by the true authentic culture, who gain from the mystification of this relationship, a mystification itself in all its gravity in mass consumption? It can only be the producer, the capitalist.

But it is not mass alone who suffers; it is a loss for all human who were consciously struggling to establish a truly cultured social order. This is also a loss
in turn for the authentic culture (art, literature and revolution) as an expression of what is specifically cultural and human social order. There is a total lack of communication between authentic culture or art or superstructure and mass. In the conditions the general public prefers pseudo – artistic or cultural products.

 The manipulation of consciousness on a massive scale has become vital to capitalism, from both economically and ideologically.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

 A Studio visit/ A gallery visit: which sounds better?
The architecture and location of the exhibition complex is usually minimized and homogenized in the art world unless the exhibition is site specific. Reese Greenberg discusses about the architecture and its politics in the article called-‘The Exhibited Redistributed’. During the sixties and the nineties, there has been a shift in the type of space used for exhibition of contemporary art, it move away from the domestic like structure to building associated with commerce and industry in the west. In 1963 Andy Warhol established the idea of production and semi-public space viewing space as factory. By changing the term of display, there is the possibility of indicating that art exists in the wider variety of social context and meaning other than monetary and Avant- garde artists in sixties and seventies when they lacked sufficient museums or commercial galleries and dissatisfied with the whole scenario, they created new types of exhibitions. The intention of these artists was rather than the demand of audience but to forced changes in the exhibition system. The new space created by these artists, ` the alternative space ` gives a different dimension to the exhibition.
Here, the matter to contemplate is that,  is there any active discourse and mental dialogue, happening  in the contemporary  so – called alternative spaces? An alternative space should be a place that people can come, have a tea and talk, in any time and this kind of active platform and dialectics, now we needs and often lacks.

Socialism in Visual Experience

The painted wall opposite to Khoj studio at Khirkee villege

van Gogh's landscape with swirling skies and Cypresses

Juxtaposition of Van Gogh`s landscape painting and popular Phantom like figure  in the street wall is optimistic about the possibilities of intellectual socialism it brings. The ‘aura’ of a text or practice is its sense of ‘authenticity’, ‘authority’, ‘autonomy’ and ‘distance’. The decay of the aura detaches the text or practice from the authority and rituals of tradition. It opens them to a plurality of reinterpretation, freeing them to be used in other contexts, for other purposes. This attempt changes the reactionary attitude toward high art into the progressive reaction. The progressive reaction is characterized by the direct, intimate fusion of visual and emotional enjoyment. Consciously or unconsciously people of this area are familiar with this painting and have a chance to enjoy the visual experience it gives.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Look through a Balloon
At night

We six people went to India Gate at night.

Friday, 20 May 2011


On 15th May we all got together at Khoj guest house, in Khirkee Extension, with a lot of excitement and expectations in our eyes. We slowly started mingling with each other by showing our works and automatically got into discussions of our ideologies and issues. Next day we went for a crazy walk in the street and a visit to India gate. We didn`t took much time to get close without much diplomacy. We all got into our studios, started thinking about our work, its execution and began searching for materials in the hot burning metropolis. I am the person who roam around my friends’ studios and streets. The last two days were noisy and nights were sleepless: people sat in the bedrooms, courtyards, metros and the kitchen and had discourses about science, psychology, Marxism, gender, sociology, linguistics, territorial boundaries, power-relations, caste systems etc.

The whole residency program can be conceive as an excellent way to channelize the  frustration of narrow  academic practices, white cube spaces and commercial groups to  break  norms and to expand boundaries.  We got an exceptional space for materialization - Khoj residency offers us a black cube to do whatever we want. Romanticizing the whole idea of an independent space, it is still challenging for us to make use of it. This space poses challenges to what we understood and created till today and it demands something different - creates the feeling of being in a vague slippery area. It might be an essential and seminal stage for every artist and writer to go through.

I am looking at this space suspiciously and conceiving the whole system most empirically because it is necessary to create a critical and analytical idea of the so-called back and white cubes of the present day art world. The established idea of commercial art galleries constitutes the artist, the curator, the dealer and the collector. The work of art is central to all, but in a different manner. For an artist it is his/her creative product, to a dealer it is a commodity and for collector it is an object of possession. In this whole scene, the position of the curator should be in a crisis and the commercial world can check his/her aspirations. So I am waiting like a spider patiently, to know how my dear friends will materialize their ideas and utilize this extremely rough black cube and in what extent this space will work itself.
The workshop is particularly interesting with the participants from interdisciplinary practices. Muthiah, the guy from Coimbatore is a student of Design, Pallavi completed her masters in painting from College of Art, Delhi, Kundo did her bachelors in fashion designing from NIFT, Praveen is a print maker working in the Space studio, Vadodara and Aarti Sunder finished her Diploma in painting from Mumbai. The Khoj guest house is a cosy place that has small square mirror windows, an inner courtyard and the white rough brick walls -all open an ambiance of interactions and casual talk. These days we spend most of our time in the studios and often keep our eyes on its roofs and corners, to visualize the display of works. We have big arguments and dialogues.

We are trying to achieve a new wave in the medium, think about art and non –art, and create a more informal experience of art which people can touch and smell.