Art

Art of sharing

Artist Sanchayan Ghosh. Photo : Thulasi Kakkat

Artist Sanchayan Ghosh. Photo : Thulasi Kakkat   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Public art practices in India went into remission after the initial flush of cave paintings, and the glorious tradition of state-sponsored temple art and architecture. It never took wing in the way other art practices blossomed in India. The current trend in public art is one of commissioning works, mainly statues, sculptures, murals and so on.

Young public art practitioner and a faculty member of Visva Bharti University, Santiniketan, Sanchayan Ghosh is forging a fresh and novel approach to art in public spaces. The novelty comes from the choice of space and the process itself. This is changing the way public art is being conceived, executed and interpreted. Sanchayan will be presenting a work at the Kochi Muziris Biennale.

The artist explains his viewpoint: “There is a shift in practice and a shift in focus. It is moving away from studios and becoming people-oriented and interactive. The process becomes an important element. It is evolved from research and it evolves further into a relationship with people.”

By relationship, Sanchayan means interaction more than communication, for the latter “can remain a one-sided affair”. The process, he says, generates memory, which is the art matrix.

In one of his earlier projects called ‘The Butterfly Effect’ (2009), Sanchayan created a “specific community” from his students who were ready to share matter, and act and react to a space. In the gallery space, a cleared bedroom, the community reacted on the subject art against terrorism.

Sanchayan’s art is influenced by his participation in workshops conducted by renowned theatre explorer Badal Sarkar. From these workshops he learnt the importance of ‘a space’ and to activate it: that there is no observer in a space; that he/ she becomes a participant; that a space will generate a response and responses will build up memory.

His second and equally strong impressions were formed as a student in Santiniketan. “Tagore’s ideas of rituals are very interesting. He has extracted the method of a ritual, not the religiousness, and placed it in a secular context.” Hence the tree planting ritual, celebrating the onset of the rain, the performance and the ritualistic elements are factors alive in the mindscape of the artist.

“I believe that somewhere artists have to come to that social situation where art does not remain elitist. The way we share art needs to be readdressed,” he says.

At the Biennale in Kochi, Sanchayan is planning a sound installation composed of different voices of communities who have come to Kochi over centuries and left their aural legacy. The final soundscape will present his interactions with community members, everyday sounds from tea shops, and casual conversations with tourists. The final montage will be placed together by theatre group, Lokadharmi.

The open-ended work with textual inputs will receive contributions from viewers. “It may acquire a totally new soundscape by the end. There’re 24 communities who have migrated to Kochi since the coming of the Arabs, the most recent being the Kashmiris. I am mainly focussing on the oral traditions and meeting point of different language practices.” He adds: “It is difficult to define my language practice. I personally believe that space is the most important element and the means to activate it is the language.”

Sanchayan says that he envies the old art style when an artist worked in public and there were live viewer reactions. Comments, suggestions and criticism became part of the process. It is this populism in art he seeks? “I don’t believe in the method of the avant-garde but I am pushing the limits,” he says. And does such an art practice have a commercial standing? “We are not outside the market. Market will rework itself to bring us in the fold. There is an art world owned by private collectors and one owned by the public, where the public feels ownership. Unfortunately this has not evolved in India,” he explains.

Sanchnayan is the social face of art, literally breaking art free from ownership.

Notable works

Solo exhibitions

Sisyphus effect 2010

Doosra- The Other Maze- Frieze Art Fair, 2010

Group shows

Are we like this? 2005, New Delhi

Butterfly effect, the interior, New York

Public Art and performances

The loom house- with Bodo weavers in Kokrajhar, 2005

Site-specific installations

Light of Darkness- Durham City, North England, 2008

Descend of Ganges- Prinsep Ghat, Kolkata, 2008

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2020 5:34:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/art/art-of-sharing/article3840004.ece

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