To let the art spread

An initiative by Nihaal Faisal experiments with the idea of publishing and finds ways to circulate artists’ work to a mass audience

Published - March 07, 2019 04:44 pm IST

When Nihaal Faisal closed down G-159, a gallery for young artists operating out of his house in Yelahanka, in April 2016, he started to feel a big vacuum. Also an artist, Nihaal went on a residency to Beirut, after which he began to think about the circulation of his work. In August 2018, he and Niharika Peri launched Reliable Copy.

Reliable Copy is a non-profit publishing house that publishes projects and writings by artists. “I want to expand the format of publishing. It could be a digital file, an essay, a photo-series. It could be an image on a t-shirt or a mug. As long as it is about art and an engaging one at that, it will do,” says Nihaal.

The core three-member team of Nihaal, Niharika and Sarasija Subramanian currently operate out of Nihaal’s home in Frazer Town.

Reliable Copy is now working on three projects — Flexing Muscles, an essay on flex banners in the city by artist Ravikumar Kashi, A Memorial for the New Economy , a downloadable digital folder (unlimited edition) of photographs on demonetisation by Chinar Shah and a sci-fi novel set in Beirut.

“Ravi Kashi has been working on this idea for a long time. He has been collecting photographs of flex hoardings in the city. He had a clear idea of the subject and he writes well. So, he decided to do an essay in Kannada and English,” says Nihaal. The publishing house has helped with editing the essay and designing the book. By June, they hope to get 500 copies out.

Nihaal says there were no Indian references to follow while setting up the publishing house. However, internationally, there are examples to look up to. “Like Pure Land Press by artist Allan Parker. He publishes his work to make it more affordable to public. During my residency, I also met two artists from Cairo who run Kayfa-ta, who publish how-to manuals in various contexts.”

Chinar’s work draws from demonetisation. “She is memorialising and mourning demonetisation. She collected newspaper reports about people who died because of demonetisation. She embroidered the names of the deceased and floral motifs on ₹1000 and ₹500 notes. These were then photographed.” The file is downloadable for free and is without copyright.

Reliable Copy is raising money through individual donations but is hoping to get institutional funding in the long-term. The team is also looking forward to curating selections of artists’ books.

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