‘Indian Highway’ presents art of transition, growth in India to world: CuratorsJuly 26th, 2012 - 8:35 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) An international travelling exhibition of Indian contemporary art in Beijing, “Indian Highway”, in the news after a video clip on the 2002 Gujarat riots was removed from the display, relates the remarkable economic, social and cultural development and transition in India in recent years, including “religious sectarianism”, says co-curator Julia Peyton-Jones, the
director of London’s Serpentine Gallery.
Jones said some works in the exhibition were selected for their
connection to the theme of “Indian Highway” like migration,
movement and cultural diversity.
“Other pieces make reference to technology and to a common
thread throughout is the way in which these artists demonstrate an active political and social engagement in examining complex issues in an Indian society that is undergoing transition, including environmentalism, religious sectarianism, globalisation, gender, sexuality and class,” Jones told IANS in an email interview from London.
“It is a presentation of the pioneering work being made in India
today, embracing all art forms. The culmination of an extensive
research over a lengthy period, the exhibition is a snapshot is a
several vibrant generations of artists working across a range of media from painting, photography and sculpture to installations and web-based art,” Jones said.
The exhibition, which represents the sweep of the Indian contemporary art canvas, grabbed eyeballs in the media after the ministry of external affairs told the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing to remove a video clip, “I love My
India” by young artist Tejal Shah.
The clip, exploring the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, carries
“objectionable photographs and interviews of youths”, the ministry said.
The Sertentine Gallery, which first mounted the exhibition in 2008 as a chronicle of new Indian art, describes Shah’s work as focusing on “the ignorance and lack of understanding of the genocide against the Muslim minority in Gujarat in 2002″. The video artwork, created by Shah in 2003, has been exhibited around the world.
The exhibition, hosting works by 30 artists and collectives, has been viewed by nearly 10,000 Chinese since it opened June 24 to the people, reports said. It has travelled to all major art destinations across Europe.
Jones, who refused to comment on the removal of Shah’s video clip,
said “conceptually, the exhibition draws from (Carribbean writer-poet and critic) Edouard Glissant’s notion of mondialite”. “It seeks to foster dialogue while resisting the homogenising forces of
globalisation. It is important to stress that there can never be a
universal language to art,” she said.
Co-curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, who conceived the show together with
Jones, said: “It adopts the model of curating in which, at each new
presentation of the exhibition, a guest curator is invited to develop their own project as a temporary autonomous element within the show - an exhibition within the exhibition.
“The title for the exhibition, Indian Highway, emerged out of
a conversation with Delhi-based artists’ group, Raqs Media
Collective, about the importance of the road in migration and movement as well as the link between rural and urban communities,” Obrist said.
Obrist, director of international projects of the Serpentine Gallery, one of the leading Britain-based art houses to have hosted artists like Subodh Gupta, said the exhibition was the gallery’s second chapter “in its focus on the arts of three major cultural and emerging global economies”.
Bringing the exhibition to Ullens Centre reflects that after years of looking to the west for references, other global centres are now looking to each other, Obrist said.
“It is an opportunity to highlight the unique relationship between the neighbouring countries within an artistic context. As India’s rapid development during recent years is among the defining events of the new century, it is a situation constantly compared to China’s own emergence,” the co-curator of the exhibition said.
Besides Shah, the exhibition features a major installation by
Sudarshan Shetty on the city of Mumbai, a triptych by Bharti Kher, a new photographic series by Dayanita Singh from her “House of Love book project” and videos by Ayisha Abraham and Hetain Patel to capture a transforming India.
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