Tuesday, August 6, 2013

EDITORIAL- Institutions Where Art History is Tortured and more..

Institutions Where Art History is Tortured

Studying art history, many people these days think, is a boring thing. Some institutions think that it is an outdated subject altogether. The result, they renamed it. By incorporating too many academic disciplines into the study of art history, as per the demand of post-modern liberalism that had challenged the exclusivity of anything, today art history is a mixed bag of disciplines. To make it sound fancier these institutions give lofty names to it such as Study of Visual Aesthetics, Study of Visual Culture and so on. Interdisciplinary studies and cross border approaches are always welcome. But the flip side of it is the production of too many half-baked brains.
(Jawaharlal Nehru University-  JNU)
(image for illustrative purposes only)
A young man or woman joins an academy to do his/her post graduate studies in visual aesthetics, only equipped with a degree in humanities or any other subjects. These institutions that give specialisation depending on the specialisation of faculty members, launch these students to a new area of knowledge to which they do not have any grip. Especially in institutions like the School of Arts and Aesthetics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, some students take admission in this discipline when they fail to get admission in their desired departments. Some may come to prepare him/herself to become an IAS officer. Their primary need is to hang out in the JNU and use its facilities. Many become ‘visual aesthetics’ scholars only because of this TINA factor (There is no Alternative than joining the School of Arts and Aesthetics to become a JNU-ite).
Recently I found out the plight of the art history post-graduates from such institutions with altered and fashionable names for their course. They do not get job in any other institutions that teach art and art history (both in the public and private sector) because the University Grants Commission (UGC) has not ‘technically’ accepted these ‘altered and designer’ courses. UGC has accepted only BFA and MFA. As a result of it, we find most of the post graduates from such elite institutions become ‘intelligent/intellectual laborers’ in the private sector establishments other than academic ones. Some become tourist guides. When I was discussing this phenomenon with some educational scholars in this country, they rightly pointed out that the problem should be recognized from within. When the teachers focus too much on salaries and their posts generations of students suffer. One of the scholars said, ‘that’s why a JNU-ite’s MPhil in visual aesthetics is as good as a BFA Art History from other traditional institutions’.
(Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda)
(courtesy Designdump.wordpress.com)
So where are we? Are we creating tailor made programs in art history just for the sake of fashion and render the students helpless and jobless? The gravest thing is that in such institutions serious ideological indoctrination is done by the teachers. Majority of the students from JNU or Ambedkar University or such ‘happening’ places do not go to galleries (I am strictly talking about the ‘art history/visual aesthetics students’). Most of them do not even know where the galleries are located. But they do go to certain places, which are suggested by their teachers. This is a clear case of ideological indoctrination done in a very sophisticated way in order to create loyal groups for these establishments and their practices. Otherwise what is the logic behind a student who does PhD in Mughal Miniatures or Traditional Indian Architecture in an elite university like the ones mentioned before absolutely refuses to go to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Art where a subject related exhibition is on, while taking a lot of enthusiasm to attend cutting edge art and performance art practices in certain fashionable ‘addas’ in Delhi? We need to hear from these course directors.
(Prof. Ratan Parimoo)
(Courtesy -  MATI)
Traditional art history teachers are boring people. True. Even Shah Rukh Khan would sound boring if he teaches art history on hot afternoons and you are bound to pay all attention to him immediately after loading yourself with the potato-dal staple food from college hostels. But no pains no gains. I remember Prof.Ratan Parimoo who had painstakingly built up an art history archive in Baroda. No google search could have excelled it in quality. He did it when India had a nationalised economy and the incoming of foreign visual materials was rare or channelized or ideologically driven. Today, things have become much easier in the learning of art history thanks to the internet. But our perennial hypocrisy prevails. In the name of trends and fashion we kill both art history and the clueless students of art history. 

The Forerunner 

( A photography work from the show)
Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai present a solo show of artist Sahej Rahal. The artist works in a range of media including sculpture, video, photography and performance. Titled, ‘Forerunner’ the show displays a 12 minute video work, debuted as part of a 2013 KHOJ International Artists' Association residency, New Delhi. 

The sculptural works made over the past two years have incorporate found materials. The still photography displayed references various live performances that the artist has undertaken in Mumbai and London. 

Rahal has recently been part of high profile residencies including Bar1, Bangalore, 2011; FUTUR foundation, Zurich, 2011; INLAKS Shivdasani Foundation sponsored residency at KHOJ international artists' association, New Delhi, 2013; Creative India sponsored residency at GASWORKS, London, 2013; Zegnart sponsored residency at MACRO museum, Rome, 2013 (forthcoming). 

The show previews on the 8th of August 2013, 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm and will be on view till the 28th of September 2013.

Sprouting Forms
(A work from the show)
The Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai presents a solo show of sculptural works by artist and sculptor Akhilesh Kumar. The show titled, ‘Sprouting Forms’ displays the recent works of the artist, where he is seen exploring the unique and complementary nature of his outlook to life. 
His work reflects on the concepts of origin and the delicate and tumultuous beginnings of life and life forms and the germination of life from a dormancy of a seed, witht he apt nurturing of mother nature’s womb.
The show is on view from the 6th of August to the 12th of August 2013 at the AC gallery -1.
Four Elements of Ceramics

(A work at the show)
Tejas Art Gallery, Kolkata, presents a solo show of ceramic sculptures by artist Aditi Saraogi. The show is titled, ‘Earth and Fire’ and displays the exquisite works in ceramics.

Aditi works in clay, stoneware and porcelain mediums for over a decade and has managed to move the art form from a craft or an artisan’s skill to the level of an artistic expression with her unique works.

This collection is a tribute to the four elements of nature -  earth, eater, fire and air, which interestingly are all used in the making of ceramic sculptures. The exhibition is on view from the 9th August to the 11th August 2013. For further details please contact :+91 9830049825.

Kosh Art Show
(Works from the show)
The Open Palm Court Gallery, of the India Habitat Center, New Delhi hosts a show of a group of artists, titled ‘Kosh’. The show displays paintings, prints, and ceramic sculptures by talented artists, Subhashish Dutta, Somnath Raha, Priyanka Batra, Chinmoy Goswami. 

The  show will be jointly inaugurated by Mrs Ira Chaudhuri, eminent potter and founder of Gallery Espace, Delhi, Renu Modi on the 7th of August 2013 at 6:00 pm.
The works displayed are contemporary in portrayal and focus on a variety of topics from urban to rural and socio-political issues.

The exhibition will carry on for the public from the 8th of August to the 12th of August 2013.

(News reports by Sushma Sabnis)

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mr. Johny ML,
    I like your editorial. You are talking about some real issues that the current Art students and faculty should know.