Burst of conversations

NEW PERSPECTIVES Visitors at India Art Fair  

The art world was keeping a close watch on the announcement of the line-up at the India Art Fair(IAF), after they partnered with the MCH group, the parent company that runs Art Basel, one of the leading international art fairs, last year to see if the contours of the four-day affair had undergone any change. But to the pleasant surprise of everyone, the annual fair, in its ninth edition, has continued with its interdisciplinary approach to promote art and is re-looking at South Asia and vernacular art forms with renewed enthusiasm.

“The tie-up has been an important milestone in the journey of IAF, considering the kind of platform we have created in less than nine years,” says Neha Kirpal, the founding director of IAF.

This partnership was announced under MCH’s new initiative to create a portfolio of regional art fairs, and India is their first region of focus in the long-term strategy for building a cultural ecosystem in South Asia. “There is a degree of excitement in the region,” points out Neha, adding the partnership aims to “put India at its rightful space on the art map”.

Ever since its inception in 2008, IAF has consolidated its position as a prominent regional art platform and has continued to adopt different strategies to involve participation from people and a suite of national and international galleries, along with private collectors. For instance, last year, they introduced a new segment, ‘Platform’ to focus on art from South Asian countries, and this year, the space has returned with collectives like Blueprint 12 from India, Britto Arts Trust from Dhaka, the Nepal Art Council from Kathmandu and Theertha International Artists Collective from Colombo (Sri Lanka), who will be displaying works of several artists from these countries.

“Basically, featuring under this segment separates you from other galleries and brings visitors to one place, if they are looking for works from South Asia. It’s easier to get lost in a big fair like this, but having a permanent address has been a great boon for our artists to get noticed,” says Mandira Lamba, director Blueprint 12 that represents artists from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.

The fair, which begins on February 2, also offers an exciting and meaningful series of conversations around art in its ‘Speakers’ Forum’ section. “The burst of conversation,” Neha says, “is a result of several brainstorming discussions to identify topics that would highlight emerging trends in the growing art segment”.

The conversations will cover a wide spectrum of topics ranging from highlighting some of the diverse practices being explored by South Asian artists to understanding the future of museums in a globalised world, and from exploring the role technology plays in art to examining the art of collecting.

“One of the key strengths of the art fair is to bring private collectors into the fore and also identify new and young collectors, so a panel discussion is a beautiful way to understand the process of collecting and identify new collectors,” says Neha.

And with art luminaries like Richard Armstrong, director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Manuel Rabate, director, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Simon Rein, programme manager, Google Arts and Culture, along with private collectors like Carl Christian Aegidius, Komal Shah, Frederic de Goldschmidt, Anurag Khanna and Krupa Amin, among others featuring in the list of panellists, the strength of the forum looks promising.

Pooja Sood, director of Khoj International Artists Association, will be part of the panel ‘Perspective from Networks of South Asian Art’ that will examine how art histories of the sub-continent are being written, circulated, and negotiated internationally and within the region. “Considering the current political scenario where there is palpable tension between India and Pakistan, it is interesting to note that people-to-people connection hasn’t really been affected. We have to understand that India is a very good market for this region and that gives everyone a reason to come to our country and engage and understanding each other’s challenges,” says Pooja.

Also, for the first time, the fair will have an independent booth that will showcase indigenous art forms like Gond and Madhubani. Titled ‘Vernacular in Flux’, this new space is curated by Annapurna Garimella, who had led the large-scale exhibition ‘Vernacular, in the Contemporary’ for Devi Art Foundation in 2010.

“IAF is going through a transformational phase and there is this whole new desire to focus on the region by highlighting vernacular art forms. So, we are looking at specific folk art practices that have made it to the mainstream. We are also trying to provide an analytical framework of what is happening in these art practices,” says Annapurna.

Apart from this, there is the staple offering of film screenings and curated walks, along with works of several Indian and international artists, which are part of the ‘Art Project’ programme. Some of the prominent art projects include ‘Photographs of Kanu Gandhi’ by Kanu Gandhi, Reena Saini Kallat’s ‘Woven Chronicle’ and Mithu Sen’s ‘Phantom Pain’ in which she continues her explorations into language, poetics, drawing and installation.

The must watch

Five must see at India Art Fair

Pakistani-American contemporary artist Anila Quayyum Agha’s ‘All the Flowers Are For Me’. Reflecting the complexities of love, loss and gain this red, laser-cut, stainless steel and bulb installation uses light as a metaphor to deal with the idea of loss.

Anila Quayyum Agha

Anila Quayyum Agha  

‘Photographs by Kanu Gandhi’, shot by his grandnephew, Kanu. Gives Giving a rare and intimate account of the Mahatma Gandhi’s life and his interactions with political leaders in is the photography project. ‘Photographs by Kanu Gandhi’, which is shot by his grandnephew, Kanu.

‘A Tale of Two Cities’ the art project explores Exploring cultural, religious and political issues between India and Sri Lanka. It is the art project, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ that uses audio-visual media to document the interactions of the artists of the two countries.

‘No Man’s Land’, a community-based project deals Dealing with the issue of the border and the fence between India and Bangladesh. It is a community-based project, ‘No Man’s Land’ that aims to understand the strong historical, cultural and sociological contexts the two countries share.

‘Events In a Cloud Chamber’ by Filmmaker Ashim Ahluwalia ’s ‘Events In a Cloud Chamber’ is a remake of Akbar Padamsee’s film, with the same name, which he shot in 1969. The modernist had lost the print and 40 years later Ashim worked with Padamsee to recreate it.

(On till February 5 at NSIC Ground, Okhla, )

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 3:11:10 AM |

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