Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in Saket is attempting to make contemporary art coherent to the public at large

While so many of us sat lamenting the lack of museums in our country, art lover Kiran Nadar came and established Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), Saket. One of the few private museums in our country, the three year-old institution has become an integral part of city’s artistic scene. Actually, she set up a museum first in 2009 on the premises of HCL Technologies, the company her husband Shiv Nadar owns, in Sector-126, Noida. The museum, currently displaying fabulous unfinished portraits, houses the collection Kiran Nadar has built over the years. In a part of NCR that is yet to wake up to art in the way Delhi has, it has become the biggest cultural address.

Its counterpart in Saket is a place for art that can’t be confined to any genres and transcends different barriers. So if your sensibilities are more attuned to that kind of art, then visit this museum. It is strategically located in a mall (DLF South Court Mall), which is close to other three really popular malls in the city. So accessibility isn’t an issue from any angle, only the will to visit a museum is.

I keep going there for talks and shows but this time I went solely for Amar Kanwar’s video installations ‘The Lightening Testimonies’. I had seen it on the day that the show it is a part of (“Is it what you think of”) opened along with Nalini Malani's ‘You Can't Keep Acid in a Paper Bag’, but Amar’s complex and long films demanded another visit. This eight-channel video installation, in which he explores the history of the sub-continent through sexual violence during conflicts in varied narratives running simultaneously on different screens, isn’t possible to grasp it in its entirety. The viewer can only catch glimpses of these films, generating an effect akin to our remembrance of the past – as fragments.

Like how I found a connect with an art work, you may find yours with another piece displayed in the show that is on till September 2014. You may find yours with Navjot Altaf’s three-channel video projection in which the image of the blue sea with its waves crashing on the shore is reflected by the countless mirrors placed on the floor. Or Vivan Sundaram’s ‘Memorial’ that is spread across a room at KNMA based on the photograph of a man lying dead on a street in Mumbai. You may just find yourself glued to the videos of Nalini Malani which are on showcase as part of her retrospective at the museum.

The museum hosts huge shows and it is not possible to view them properly in just one visit. So what the museum does is mount really long shows that are just ideal for art connoisseurs and art students who would like to keep going back.

But what about the floating visitors? For them the entry point would be Subodh Gupta’s gigantic installation “Line of Cloud”, a mushroom-shaped cloud placed right at the entrance. “While footfall is an important yardstick to measure the success of a museum, that alone can’t be the only factor,” says Roobina Karode, Director and Chief Curator, KNMA. So the way around this challenge is to build a sustained viewership through a host of programmes around one show. “Museum can’t just be a site of display or a repository of heritage. It has to do more. It has to be a place which will give you an emotional connect,” adds the veteran curator.

From the outside, the exhibitions with all their complexities may appear to be intimidating but who says we have to understand it completely. A viewer can go back drawing from just a single image.

For school kids, KNMA already has multiple programmes on offer. “Now it is the other way around. A lot of students bring their parents along. Once, a young father expressed his apprehension about the presence of some unsettling images. I just asked him when is the right time to talk to your child about rape, violence and corruption.”


Location: 145, DLF South Court Mall, Saket

Timing - 10.30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)

Entry is free