Wednesday, January 29, 2014

EDITORIAL - Kiran Nadar Museum and the Charity Hating Art Lovers

Kiran Nadar Museum and the Charity Hating Art Lovers
( Ms. Kiran Nadar)
Ms.Kiran Nadar, the Director of Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi sent out an email appeal to the art lovers in Delhi. The mail says that Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), Noida has a put up a very interesting show of modern masters culled from the collection of the museum. But none in the art scene in Delhi seems to be interested. Her appeal is that the art lovers should take interest to travel to Noida and see the exhibition. Though she does not say it, what we understand from the mail is that if none goes there it would be detrimental to the general health of our art scene. In fact, I appreciate this mail because for the first time, a director of the museum comes several rungs down from her high position (of being the owner of the museum as well as the director of it) and makes an appeal to the people. But I do not fail to see the catch; there is a veiled threat in the message. If you are not interested, then why I should run a museum at all! Interesting thing is that KNMA’s Saket wing is well attended and people take interest to go there whenever there is a show or a seminar. The appeal of Ms. Kiran Nadar brings out one of the pertinent issues of our culture; the location of a museum.
Museums are the repositories of cultural artifacts that have/had once made our cultural lives vibrant and engaged. When they transcend their immediate use value and attain a spiritual value, it is said, they reach a museum. If we go by the etymology of the word museum, it is derived from mausoleum where the dead are buried. That’s why noted cultural theorists like Douglas Crimp say that after travelling through different layers of economic activities, a work of art achieves a zero value (beyond all monetary values) and settles itself in a museum. Therefore, a work of art in a museum, in an ideal sense is a dead object which is economically irrelevant and culturally relevant. But from outside a dead body also could generate certain extrinsic economic activities as in the case of the remnants of saints, martyrs and leaders in mausoleums. When people go there to see these physical residues of saints and great people, an economic activity is generated around it. The Monalisa cannot be bought or sold anymore. But people go to Louvre Museum in Paris just to see that three by four size work of art. If so, where should be the location of a museum?
( Kiran Nadar Museum of Art)
People travel all the way to pilgrim centres to catch a glimpse of the mortal remains of a saint. But people do not go all the way to see a work of art housed in a building. If a museum is right in the middle of some other touristic attractions, then definitely in their itinerary they will include visiting the museum. In India’s case, people are just averse of museums. An average museum goer appears to be a bored person and he/she visits that place only because the travel guide has forced them to do so. But some people religiously visit museums and galleries but they are always insiders of the cultural scene. We have to ask why KNMA’s Saket premises are popular amongst the art lovers. They go to Saket, visit the museum, have a bite from one of the restaurants, do some shopping, just hang out, watch a movie, share some happy moments and just feel good about it. Across the road they have KHOJ that too offers food for cultural thoughts. It comes as a natural package. None forces anyone to see a work of art in the museum. But once you are there you have a lot to see and enjoy both inside and outside the museum. This cannot be the same case with Noida.
By the end of 1990s, KHOJ started its operations from the distant Modi Nagar in UP. By the end of the international workshop there, the organizers used to provide a bus from Mandi House to Modi Nagar. It was a day excursion for all of us; both the haves and have nots of the art scene. In fact in those days, everyone was more or less have nots. None had mobile phones and cars. Those who had it never ventured out for a long drive on a Sunday morning. Right from the established to the novice, the achiever to the struggler, the Padma Award winner to the insignificant used to come to Mandi House and catch the bus to Modi Nagar. Today KNMA too offers the same facility for its Noida shows. But none cares, why? Today, it is a changed world. Our mobility has increased, our engagements have increased, our communication facilities have increased and taking out time for going to another city to show, herded in a bus is not at all palatable, even if there is cocktails and dinner waiting for you. The immediate surroundings have more to offer. Also the idea of sending a bus and carting the people out there to the location has got something to do with charity and bonded labour. People no longer like it. Ms.Kiran Nadar, please understand this. KNMA’s Noida wing will become an important destination only when people have more to see and spend there in and around, other than art. Is Noida prepared?
( Ms. Kiran Nadar )
Years ago, Apeejay Art Centre at Badarpur Border was a destination for many people. Badarpur borders between Delhi and Haryana. Decent people never used to look at this side in those days. Borders are nowhere zones with less of cultural presence and these places are more about human struggle and survival, crimes and cheap passions. Who wants high art there? But people used to come and complain. But they used to come because still it was within the city limits. Today, had Apeejay been on, it would have been one of the biggest art haunts because the Badarpur Metro station just sits over the Apeejay Media centre. But development and planning have taken the toll on it and it looks more or less shut down with outer contours mauled by bulldozers. What about Devi Art Foundation in Gurgaon? There used to be a time people loved to go there. But the owner of the foundation switched gears. It became obsolete. When a museum gives way to experimental shit (rather shitty experiments) mind you, it is on its way to shut down. Despite metro connectivity Devi Art Foundation is no longer an interesting haunt of many. Irony is it was a pilgrimage centre for city’s cultureratti and glitterati and chatteratti and freeloaderatti. It has a designer building with a rusty look. Now, its reputation lives up to its designer facade.
Hence, my request to Ms.Kiran Nadar is this: Take a deep breath look at it. Breath out and look at it. Tell yourself that you are breathing in and breathing out. Nothing spiritual about it. It helps you to calm down and see the art people as just normal people with normal habits. They want, like any other middle class, more fun. Is Noida museum ready to give it? Just dinner and cutting edge or master shows will not do. It needs more planning. People need to think that it belongs to them. How could the multi billion empire be of the people, you may ask? But it has to belong to the people. Charity, even if it is cultural, is horrible; it demeans both the giver and taker as the lending does. But we need philanthropic people as we have not yet done away with poverty and lack. But philanthropy should be done in a Christian way; what right hand gives should not be known to the left hand. The mail of Ms.Kiran Nadar is well meaning. But its cultural meaning is disappointing. 
PS: I, like many in the city, received a bunch of invitation cards from KNMA. Three shows in a row and all three are curated by one single person. I am sure you guys are on the way to the Guinness Book of World Records. 


Shrine at IAF 2014

Shrine Empire Gallery, New Delhi as part of the India Art Fair 2014, presents the exquisite art works of a group of artists.  The gallery will showcase their works at Booth D3 and the artists whose works are on display are Anoli Perera, Fariba S Alam, Priyanka Dasgupta, Samanta Batra Mehta and Suchitra Gaholt.

The works are on view from 30th January to 2nd February 2014 at the NSIC Exhibition Grounds, New Delhi.

Ambiguity in Landscapes
( Work by Parvathi Nayar)
Gallery Veda, Chennai will be showcasing the works of eminent artist Parvathi Nayar under the title- Ambiguity of Landscapes. This is a solo show of the latest works of the artist. 
Her art practices are centered on painting and drawing and conceptually they are rooted in ideas of narrative, at ways of looking and the privileging of sight. She explores the ideas of the daily narrative of our lives in this world through fragmentary, familiar and unfamiliar perspectives. All her works provide an obsessive attention to technique in the eventual resolution so that the subject is both the content and manner in which it is portrayed.
The exhibition will be on view from 10th February to 12th March 2014.

The Interior from Iran

( work on display)
Goethe Institute , Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai, presents a show of some exquisite photography works. The show is titled, ‘ the Interior: A Special Issue on Iran’ and displays some stunning still photographic works by 14 Iranian photographers, working in and outside Iran.

The Interior: a Special Issue on Iran will be on view till 18th February 2014.

Every Broken Moment, Piece by Piece

( Work by Sudarshan Shetty)
GallerySke, New Delhi presents ‘Every Broken Moment, Piece by Piece’, an exclusive art exhibition by Sudarshan Shetty. Sudarshan’s art works are based on varied subjects like mortality, sense of loss and broken structures. Creating familiar objects using diversified materials like recycled wood and ceramic, the display includes large-scale wooden sculptures, mixed-media pieces and a video.

Known for his large-sculptural installations and multi-media artworks, the artist is returning back to the capital after ten years with his recent exhibition. The works by the artist are all unique and never same. The video on display has been titled as ‘Waiting for others to arrive’. Divided into three different shots, the video presents the same scene in three different frames shot from the same camera angel. The video provides a sense of past, present and future within the same space with objects fading in and out.

The show is on view till 2nd March 2014.

( News Reports by Sushma Sabnis)

( All images sourced from Google for illustrative purposes only)

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