How to be a ‘nomad’ artist

A global residency programme that invites artists to engage with different geographies and their landscapes, has Delhi-based Gunjan Tyagi participating this year

August 30, 2019 02:20 pm | Updated 02:29 pm IST

One of Tyagi’s previous installations in France

One of Tyagi’s previous installations in France

For five years now, there has been a fairly quiet international initiative that’s been taking place annually. Called the Global Nomadic Art Project (GNAP), it invites a dozen or so artists from around the world and sends them to a country, where they spend a fortnight creating site-specific installations, through the experience of the place’s geography.

The GNAP is initiated by Yatoo, the 38-year-old Korean Nature Artists’ Association. It was when the programme’s 2015 edition took place in India, that Delhi-based artist Gunjan Tyagi got invited to be on board the collective.

“They approached me by noticing my work on Facebook,” 33-year-old Tyagi, a graduate of the J.J. School of Art, says. In that edition, the project took the group to stark landscapes in Gujarat — they had traversed through Ahmedabad, Rajkot, and Kutch, spending time understanding the landscape, and interacting with its contours to make their art.

Gunjan Tyagi

Gunjan Tyagi

This year, Tyagi is back on the GNAP, which is currently ongoing in Germany and Italy, and will conclude on 8th September.

“The programme encourages us to go into nature with no tools, respond to it by creating art — we don’t use any external material, just what we find there, and make everything from scratch,” Tyagi says. The artists can, however, use a camera to document their process, especially in cases where they use themselves as part of an installation. But mostly pieces that they make are left there, for passers-by to stumble upon, and to have nature grow back on it.

After her first time, Tyagi was invited back, along with another Delhi-based artist Aarrti Zaveri, in 2017. This time, the project took them to two countries: the leg in Lithuania had them working in places like Ventė Cape, a town known for being a hotspot for migratory birds, and Raudonė Castle, a 19th Century castle that’s now used as a school. In France, they worked in, among others, a small town with troglodyte homes still preserved.

“There’s no homework that I do before going on these [GNAP] trips,” Tyagi says. There isn’t much that she can prepare herself with, barring some basic reading up about the place. Schedules are provided in advance, but it is only when you go there, meet people living in these landscapes, and work in them that ideas really crystallise.

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