Wednesday, 1 June 2011

My thoughts on Community art always ends in the question of what art can do in a marginalized community.
The politics of all conquerors in this world has been to wipe out indigenous art, performances, manuscripts and heritage of a settlement in order to erase their culture and thereby their existence and identity to make them fragile. This has been the politics of Tuglak, the Britishers and now, our Government towards the marginalized community. So curating and researching about the ethnic culture and the art of peripheral communities is more interactive and rational to the function of art and curation. The aim to curate their own culture is to bring the lost heritage and culture back and to make create a small group of activists and intellectuals. Maybe this kind of interaction with create a powerful group that brings the issue to mainstream politics and questions the cultural homogenizing force of politics and tactics.
Curating community art in a white or black cube is challenging, but it can work by making use of the faculties of new media art like – sound, performances, interviews, installations and videos. But while using these new technologies in community art, we should have researched on the traditional art forms of that chosen community like koothu, shadow puppetry, street dramas or ballet, which were the primitive forms of the present day new media arts and performances.
Find out their traditional art forms  and curate it in the context of “art curation” which is not just putting a piece of video in the street and telling them to watch, but while excavating and curating their traditional genre that brings back their cultural identities and the existence. And share this with the outsider. Use of new media, curatorial methodologies and research within the community to help revive a lost culture, will allow for a new school of curation and art practice which are rooted in theory and practice.
In this scenario of Indian art galleries transform from domestic buildings to luxurious set ups. Obviously we can consider the domestic spaces as alternative spaces where experimentalists and Avant Garde dwells, but now a days many alternative spaces become works like mainstream galleries. The politics, rationality, context and the ideology of work of art is gradually diminished by the increasing use of exhibition as aesthetic objects. It increases the distance of art and curation from the society (social issues) and this alienation of art and theory is a crucial issue in India.
So in this scenario, working with a marginalized community allows the artists to create a more democratic space in the mode of interaction and exhibition. The general term `space` is intentionally to avoid the connotation of an institutional or commercial environment. Space immediately avoids the connotation of commodity. So I hope this kind art practice blurs the boundaries between curation, research and activism.

A scene from Sri Lankan Tamils Refugee camp in Tamil Nadu .
This photograph is collected from internet


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  2. A very good post....very insightful. I like the suggestion of old traditional art/craft forms merging with contemporary art in community art projects to truly include the community involved.