Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Politicizing Visuals

I conceive this gathering and studio space as an active platform for interesting experimental work in any medium; it can be art or non-art, and to create a more informal experience of art which can be touched and smelled. We’ve been talking, travelling and working together for the past thirty days in this space. The ideas that emerged around this residency are mostly peripheral in terms of so-called art theory and practice. The inter-related intellectual dialectics open up a new horizon in terms of ideology. Discourse on many established politics and methodologies happened during this time that lead to an inquisitiveness of what could or should work in practice.

I felt the attitude of participants in this residency was to politicize everything. And the essence of our discussions might be reading the visuals as not merely visuals; They come from and go with many interpretations and established concepts. So each visual is politically charged. Art can be personal but what makes a person’s ‘personal’ is political. E.g. The behavioral pattern of a boy and/or girl in our childhood that we later recognize as a stereotype, that forms the seed for a gender politics. The dress code of women in job sectors, initially in the west now spreading to India, is surely a reflection of a politics of patriarchal society E.g. Heels women wear. This residency became a stage to politicize and reread contemporary visual arts in different perspectives.

Curatorial practice is a blurred area to most young academic students. The pedagogy of art history poses a crucial question of accessibility and practice.In this situation being a critic and curator was challenging for me to figure out the appropriate methods to approach this program. Even though we had many conversations and discourses, it was challenging me to synchronize and view in terms of certain locus of philosophy and studying it in a wider perspective. I felt my role of critic was like a crime detective in many ways (!). I did a long series of conversations with the artists to understand their concepts and insights and was enthusiastic to learn their personalities and characters as well as I can. It helps me to understand their works and interpret and relate them courageously even though many of them opposed me strongly. It was wondering when I sense the difference between theory and practice. I saw those who believe in the theoretical existence of work of art and those who argue for the personal freedom and self- expression in this residency. I was remembering an incident in this residency, Praveen Goud was showing images of his works by sitting in khoj’s  drawing room, I saw a  work he had done a  few years before which  portrays some signs of Indian Army. When I asked about it, he told me simply, He had an ambition to be an Army man in his teenage, so he did that work. I felt it was not an adequate explanation from an artist, an onlooker or a critic might have another idea (it doesn’t matter if the artist does not believe in the articulateness of work of art). And characters of Aarti Sunder, like Blue insect, Green butterfly, Pig, etc. are her intimate characters and can be read as an imagination of the artist but one can perceive these metaphors as her response to certain politics. So it is hard to read her works as simple illustrations and fables. These situations were seminal to me in shaping my own theories and methodologies. Apart from spending time within the community, meeting the renowned artists and contemporaries in Delhi was another pleasure. I felt this residency was a platform for me to develop certain empirical knowledge and experiences.

Selecting participants from different faculties like communication designing, printmaking, fashion Designing create a certain dynamics. It was interesting me to get to know many new materials, mediums and methods of art making. Selecting these students and designed them to live together makes this residency far more success and was seminal to extend the boundaries of so-called Fine Arts practice and theory.
With this background, this residency became a space to develop certain empirical knowledge and experiences for young peers. This residency analyzes the notion of interaction amongst different artists to create inter-cultural dialogue, the curatorial efforts and possibilities, the concept of “interdisciplinary practice” and new media in contemporary art.

But I felt,one month duration is very less for an artist or critic to settle down in a new space, both mentally and physically. This residency can be designed as giving time and space to participants to absorb the socio political and cultural climate of the city and nearby, makes the residency more ‘open’ and research oriented. It will be better to make sure the active participation of peers in khoj’s other community programs during the residency period and will help the participants to understand the issues, identities and the history of nearby settlements and town. However I appreciate the freedom and patience that khoj showed me to reshape and refresh my thoughts and accept my merits and demerits. 

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