Monday, October 14, 2013

EDITORIAL - Project Art and Rule Book Sex .. and more..


Project Art and Rule Book Sex
(A still from The Great Dictator - Charlie Chaplin)
A friend of mine, a Professor in one of the highly acclaimed educational institutions in India, while talking about the meticulousness of teachers and delaying tactics of students in submitting assignments and class works, related the story of a fellow professor, who has been meticulous in planning, precise in delivering lectures and highly organised in life. This friend of my friend is a google addict; not like the students who have set up their ready libraries there, thereby reducing the gravity of research into unbearable lightness. He is addicted to google calendars. Google calendars help one to organise dates and days. Though I have not tried this, what my friend told me about his friend gave me all the reasons to get impressed by this application. He has already planned his life till 2016; his lectures, tours, seminars, papers, publications and what not!
In this impressive feat (which I along with many others find a bit Quixotic) he dares time, emotions, instincts, time and god (if S/he is around) and he challenges all notions of accidents and coincidences. He even challenges fate and remains an ultimate optimist. Nothing can happen outside these planned programs, he believes. It may be working very well for him. Perhaps, he gets his high out of planning and executing. However, how mechanical and comical it is! As a nature lover he must be watching nature from 8.15 am to 8.24 am and one minute he makes his brisk walking to the car parking. You have seen such people; the professor in Three Idiots. And in the classic, The Great Dictator, Chaplin impersonates Hitler as Adenoid Hynkel who does everything so meticulously; he attends inventors and dismisses them duly after seeing their humungous failures, he models for his sculptor for a few seconds and he plays piano. He sees everything as a project to be attended, maintained and if need be executed. 
(For illustration purpose only)
When I look at some artists or should I say a majority of the artists, I remember my friend’s professor friend and Chaplin’s Hynkel. These days, artists speak of art projects; the projects that they have taken up or planning to take up. They use a different parlance to express their ideas and ambitions. My friend informs me how these days young art students, who have come to the scene during the boom time or the post-boom years, use an absolutely different language, which had been once considered quite crass in artistic circles, of money and market. For example, a young artist or art student takes a studio on rent and he/she speaks of it as an ‘investment’. When an artist buys a few books he speaks of ‘investing’ on books or he is on his way to a project of making a ‘personal library’. Everything is a project, like building a dam or implementing poverty alleviation programs, with a prescribed aim, chartered pathways, data based analysis and waiting for possible outcome. Everything is foreseen as in a ‘project’. 
My question is this: Do we live our lives as if it were a project; well planned, chartered and absolutely devoid of surprises? What a horrible life it could be! Today, most of the works of art that fail to surprise me or impress me (or many) mainly because they all look like a ‘project’, carefully planned and eminently executed. They are clinically sanitized pieces of art. They are the results of disinfected thoughts. They come from fumigated channels of dried up emotions. They are the results of silenced surprises. They are the results of an ending foretold with an ineffective narrative in the middle. They are like those bridges that start from somewhere and end up hanging in the air. They are like the alleys that take you nowhere. They are like an aquarium of artificial fish. They are like the archives of a cross word puzzle player who has played Cantonese crossword puzzles all his life without knowing a word in that language. They are like the collection of negatives with no images. But they are meticulously planned and executed.
(For illustration purpose only)
The curse of our time is this project based art. Art cannot be project based. Sex is not sex when it is done as a project. Eating is not eating when it is planned as a project. Dreams stop at that point where projects start. If you read the lives of great artists, scientists, social reformers, philosophers, poets, literary giants, musicians, dancers and so on, you could see how they have led a life of trial and error, revelations and dreams, aimless meanderings and accidental findings; none approached their lives and careers as a project. People go to Brazil or Switzerland or Island for three months on a residency program, take up a project, complete and come back. From then onwards they start speaking of projects, projects and projects. Today Indian art is not exciting because everything in art has become projects. Artists are engineers and program directors than dreamers and creators. 
I am not a puritan when I say there should not be projects. I don’t even say that. What I say is this one has to dream, one has to wander, one has to err and one has to experiment before one arrives at a work of art. Proficiency, genius, talent and practice make it quite natural. It is like a singer sings, a flower blooms, a wind blows, a wave lashes and an eyelid winks. Artists could make use of social contacts, helps, mechanical support and everything after this stage of dreaming and aimlessly walking. Go back to the surprise of that child who accidentally finds a coin from the bushes and runs to the ice cream van and gets his cherished cone cream. And also become the vague sadness mingled with a strange happiness of that child who wakes up and finds that getting the coin and cone was just a dream. 

Swiss Positions
( A photography work on display)
Open Palm Court Gallery, New Delhi presents a show of photography by various photographers titled, ‘Swiss Positions’. The show displays a collection of photographs of 
33 Takes On Sustainable Architecture of key projects from the Swiss construction sector over the past twenty years. 

The show is curated by Nathalie Herschdorfer, produced and presented by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). This exhibition is being presented as part of the year long activities of the Embassy of Switzerland in India for the “Year of Swiss Architecture, Design and Engineering in India, 2013 – 14”

This show is on view from 24th October to 31st October 2013.

Creative Landscapes
( A work by Shantaram Belkar)
Artist’s Centre, Mumbai presents a solo show of recent works by eminent artist Shantaram Belkar. The show titled, 'Creative Visual Expressions’, incorporates his recent innovations of illustrating abstract paintings in enamel colours, acrylic colours using mix media on canvas, line landscapes in oil and acrylic colours on canvas and paper collage.

The show displays a variety of techniques the artist has explored and  will be on view till 13th October 2013.

Breaking the Chains of Stigma

Institute of Contemporary Art, (ICIA) Art Gallery, Mumbai presents for the first time in India by Dr. Guislain Museum in association with TISS, Janssen Research & Development, LLC, The Tata Trust, Visit Flanders and The Institute of Contemporary Indian Arts; an art exhibition on "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" on the occasion of World Mental Health Day. 

The art exhibition will give a global overview of the history of mental health and an outstanding selection of outsider art. The works of outsiders are not in keeping with any common artistic tradition - it is a history that traces the origins of stigma: stigma as a consequence of a disturbing otherness.

The show is on view till 17th October 2013.

Space for Art
( Work on display at the show)
Space Art gallery, Hyderabad presents a group show of eminent and established artists from the Indian contemporary scene.  The show aims to bring a variety of art works rendered differently from one artist to the other.

The participating artists are Seema Kohli, Bhairu Raghuram, Ramesh Gorjala, Srinivas Reddy, Srinivas Tailor, Anand Panchal and Vennimalai.

The works on display are primarily figurative, varying from realistic works to representative, spiritual and  fantastical. Also on display are masks and abstract works.

The show is on view till 15th October 2013.

( News reports by Sushma Sabnis)

No comments:

Post a Comment