Education is the core concern of all our initiatives. Listed below are some of the lectures and workshops conducted at the Museum.
Public lecture by Dr. Rupert Arrowsmith , Research Associate, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University College, London
Angelo da Fonseca: Indian Modernist
Since his death in 1967, Indo-Portuguese painter Angelo da Fonseca has been dismissed by most art historians as a provincial figure of interest only to practicing Christians. During his life, by contrast, Fonseca’s application of Hindu and Buddhist conventions to ostensibly Christian scenes was considered so controversial that he was driven out of Goa amid charges of heresy, and his work continued throughout his career to emphasise the connections, not the divisions, between all religious traditions. For the first time, Fonseca will appear in a major survey of modern Indian art this year. Dr. Arrowsmith will introduce some of Fonseca’s more experimental works, many of which have never been exhibited, and will explain why the artist is worthy not just of national, but of global recognition.
Public lecture by Suresh Jayaram, artist and art historian,
Building Bridges- Sethusamudram
Begun in 2010, the Sethusamudram Project was a 3 year collaborative art project initiated by Theertha International Artists Collective, Colombo, Sri Lanka, and 1.Shanthi Road Studio/Gallery, Bengaluru. The Project collectively developed and envisioned programs to engage with and address the highly complex and variegated history and emotions surrounding the relations between India and Sri Lanka. It drew on the links, similarities, and shared anxieties, emotions and histories between the two geographical areas, and covered a wide area of study that included society, politics, history, religion, mythology. Through this illustrated talk, Suresh conveys how the Project showed that it is only “through regional interaction and dialogue that we hope to redeem their trauma. Art connects, heals, and can often be a catharsis for both the artist and the viewer”.
Public lecture by Dr.Parul Dave-Mukherji, Professor at the School of Art and Aesthetics, JNU
Contemporary Indian Art through the Lens of Asia
The recent publication of InFlux: Contemporary Art in Asia, provides a point of departure to raise questions about the current state of contemporary art in Asia. Parul aims to examine the shift in its critical reception, from the time of its emergence in the 1990s to the present, through a global recession and the challenge posed by post-nationalist geography. She questions the extent to which the aspiration to move beyond a Eurocentric definition of Asia to an inter-regional understanding has been fulfilled in its art practice and critical reception. She will focus on the recent works by N Pushpamala and the Raqs Media Collective in the way their practice has engaged with the category of “Asia” though travel and discourse.
Public lecture by Vidya Kamat, artist and research scholar
Beyond the Circle: A Study of Roadside Shrines in Mumbai
The practice of erecting wayside shrines which dates back to ancient India still proliferates in contemporary times, and in metropolitan cities such as Mumbai. Not only do these ubiquitous sanctums persist in the midst of drastic modern changes that often seem to be at odds with traditional locations, aesthetics and purposes; some of them even surpass established temples, churches and mosques in their popularity. Their persistence could be attributed to the fact that these shrines allow a culturally diversified, socially and linguistically multi-tiered, and fluctuating migrant population to engage with the city. Vidya’s extensive study, conducted over a period of two years, delves into some of the issues related to the making of roadside shrines: their ownership, aesthetic deliberations, spatiality, as well as their economic and political ramifications. Through this study of roadside shrines, she attempts to document the conditions of modern city life and the shifting social, religious, and emotional boundary lines that define this city.
Public lecture by Gayatri Sinha, critic and curator
Water Art Walk: Curating between Transnational Institutions
For the recently concluded 24th Europalia biennial celebrating India, Gayatri Sinha curated Water as an art walk in Liège, Belgium. The festival which ties up with the Government of the featured country collaborated here with the ICCR and the Indian Ministry of Culture to showcase a multidisciplinary programme. Water was primarily staged in sites surrounding Liège’s water bodies: a 17th century museum and an 18th century banker’s house located on the banks of river Meuse formed an integral part of the exhibition. Gayatri drew on the century-old pan-Indian discussion on water, re-imagining it through video works, photographs and sculptural installations. The exhibition was a conflation of histories: sea trade with Europe, migration, the poetics of water in the Indian tradition as well as its deeply problematic social reading in contemporary India. Through her lecture, Gayatri will also examine the issue of the state as sponsor, and issues of meaning and aesthetics in a transcultural context.
Public lecture by Girish Shahane, independent writer and art critic
Reaching Many Publics: Art Chennai 2014
Girish Shahane was the artistic director of the third edition of Art Chennai, a visual arts festival founded and run by Sanjay Tulsyan. Art Chennai 2014 consisted of exhibitions spread across two dozen locations, including public spaces, malls, educational institutions and art galleries. Shahane will speak about the challenges and rewards of curating shows for this festival.
Public lecture by Prof. Ratan Parimoo, noted art historian and painter
N.S. Bendre: My Teacher
N.S. Bendre (1910 - 1992), who trained in Indore and was considered a master of many pictorial media, achieved tremendous fame in India during the 1930s. A trip to the US and Europe in 1947/48 gave him first-hand experience of the European art movements. With such accomplishments, in 1950 he became the first Head of the Painting Department at the newly established Faculty of Fine Arts of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Bendre emerged as their most influential teacher and inspired many young artists during his 16 years there, before settling in Mumbai in 1966. Slightly older than the generation of Progressive Artists Group, Bendre completely changed art education and became one of the pioneers of modern Indian art. In this lecture, Prof. Parimoo, one of Bendre’s first students, focuses on the latter’s work and teaching in Baroda.
Public lecture by Peter Fischli, Artist
Public Lecture organised in association with Pro Helvetia, Swiss Arts Council.
Popular opposites and contradictions in the work of Peter Fischli and David Weiss
Peter Fischli will talk about his journey as an artist which has been greatly influenced by Robert Venturi’s book Learning from Las Vegas, in which the Learning stands for modernism/ Bauhaus and Las Vegas stands for post modernism. He will speak about growing up in a house shaped by the Bauhaus that his father built in 1930 and how he escaped from it with the help of Venturi’s book. He sees both modernism and post modernism as a big influence in his work. By showing specific works, he will show Fischli/Weiss is a larger frame of time.
Public lecture by Georges Rousse, Artist and Photographer
Georges Rousse began making installations in the types of abandoned or derelict buildings that have long held an attraction for him--creating ephemeral, one-of-a-kind artworks by transforming these sites into pictorial spaces that are visible only in his photographs. It was his discovery of Land Art and Malevich’s Black Square on a White Ground that set him on his current trajectory that explores the relationship of painting to space. Georges’ presentation will discuss his works, which call upon painting, design, sculpture and architectural construction to effect a transformation in the building. It will trace his process, from an empty space and drawings to a photographic work, which will be the lasting impression of the place and a document to its poetic metamorphosis. Georges is in India for a project with an NGO that aims to transform a space in the Shivaji Nagar slum with his signature artwork.
Public Lecture by Kaiwan Mehta, theorist and critic
December 14th, 2013
Ornament as Urban
Architectural ornaments, far from being the flourish or the decorative patina applied on a building surface, serve as an active visual encounter with built volume and space. Ornaments have always been integral to questions of style; but from the architect Adolf Loos’ essay Ornament and Crime written in 1908 to the essay Mass Ornament by Siegfried Kracauer in 1927, the range of meanings and imaginations that this term carries multiplies. The subject of ‘ornament’ thus extends from art and architecture history, into urban culture and the sense of the public. To explore these relationships Kaiwan will present the case of the Shekhawatihavelis and towns, and detail how their visual characteristics are actually a structure of urbanity emerging in the 19th century mercantile world. He attempts to try and understand buildings not only for their formal or stylistic ideas, but for their relationships to notions of community and culture in the metropolitan space.
Public lecture by Dr. Kavita Singh, Art Historian
The Future of Ethnographic Museums
Observers regularly predict the imminent death of the ethnographic museum, an institution that was born of colonial entanglements and that now seems an embarrassing relic of an earlier and more iniquitous age. Kavita seeks to present a contrarian view: rather than seeing the ethnographic museum as a thing of the past, she argues that all museums of the future will be ethnographic. She posits that the ethnographic mode underlies or will soon underlie all major museal and exhibitory forms to a greater or a lesser degree. To demonstrate this, Kavita will draw on examples of museums that are burgeoning across China, South East Asia, South Asia and the Gulf states, discussing the ways they respond to the pulls and pushes of a global cultural economy and global cultural circulation through processes of description and inscription in ways that are distinctly ethnographic.
Public lecture by Ram Rahman, photographer and activist
November 9th, 2013
The Photograph as Document: Making a Visual Archive of a Culture
In the decades since he took up the camera, Ram Rahman’s activism and varied interests have given him an insight into some of modern India’s most private and memorable moments. His images form a narrative of timeless moments, of fleeting memories and long-lost faces captured forever. By looking back at his rich oeuvre, Ram will discuss the tradition of documentary photography, and trace its historical roots in India. The questions of truth, context, history, memory and nostalgia are embedded in the photographic image, and Ram will speak on how a practitioner grapples with these issues to make a body of work which is both personal and universal.
Public Lecture by Dr. Annapurna Garimella, designer and art historian
October 19th, 2013
The Classical Discourse and the Institutionalizationsof the Erotic: Marg as a Case Study
From its birth in the 1940s as the Modern Architects Research Group (M.A.R.G.) through its transition to the Sanskritic Marg (path), MARG has reinforced the importance of an international and shared classic Buddhist past. It was, on one hand, the official representative of “authentic” Indian heritage and its “unity in diversity”. On the other, in its unofficial or discursive role, it negotiated the formation of the classical in the history of Indic visual, built and performing arts through shringara.This approach, conducted especially through the printed portfolio and the magazine, transformedshringarainto a general erotic affect and turned the connoisseur and national intellectual's gaze secular when looking at India's classical past. This new approach meant that a wide variety of courtly and ritual art forms became available to anybody who wanted to claim it as “national” heritage. Annapurna seeks to contrast this eroticization of painting, sculpture and architecture with the ongoing debates over the de-eroticization of inherited art forms by practioners of Indian classical dance. She will conclude by looking at dancer and scholar AparnaBannerjee’s research on the formation of Odissi as a classical dance and the role Marg played in that process.
Public lecture by Johan Pijnappel, Dutch art historian and curator
Indian Video Art: History in Motion
In 2004, Fukuoka in southern Japan was the site of Indian Video Art: History in Motion, a historic exhibition that for the first time focused on video art from the subcontinent. It was the very first museum exhibition that featured the video works of Indian artists like Subba Ghosh, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Sonia Khurana, UmeshMaddanahalli, NaliniMalani, SharmilaSamant, Tejal Shah, ValayShende and VivanSundaram. While older artists like Nalini and Vivan began using video early on, it was still a relatively new medium until the mid-90s owing to the paucity of venues and facilities to show it within the country. This exhibition investigated the possibility of video art, from the point of view of these artists who were until then mostly known as painters and sculptors. Johan, who has been curating Indian video art for more than fifteen years, elaborates on his experiences in Fukuoka, juxtaposing it with experiences in Amsterdam (1998), Beijing (2002) and Chicago (2007).
Public lecture by Pooja Sood, Director of KHOJ International Artists’ Association
The City as Site: the 48C. Public. Art. Ecology experiment
48C.Public. Art. Ecology was an experiment aimed at interrogating the teetering ecology of the capital metropolitan city of Delhi through the prism of contemporary art. Through 25 art interventions across 10 public sites in the city – the first contemporary art project of its scale— the festival attempted to draw a diverse public into the world of this critical imaginary. The project brought together Indian and International artists around the thematic of art and ecology, the title of the project itself evoking Delhi’s famed heat waves a result of the exigencies of global warming. Curated by Pooja in 2008, and supported by the Goethe Institut and the GTZ, this presentation will walk the audience through this unique project highlighting issues of site specificity and the instrumentalisation of art. Pooja aims to delve into the meaning of public spaces in India and their hospitability (or lack of) to contemporary art and the responses it garners from the government and varied audiences.
Public lecture by Girish Shahane, Independent Writer
The issue of free expression has regularly featured in debates about art in India, especially in the decade and a half since M F. Husain was first accused of giving offence. Defenders of artistic license often use Libertarian arguments, though the Indian constitution is far from Libertarian. Shahane attempts to locate the discussion within a specifically Indian context, foregrounding the gap between the responses of India’s law-making apparatus to obscenity on the one hand, and political or religious offence on the other. In building his argument, Shahane refers to texts like Bharata’sNatya Shastra, the Williams Report on Obscenity and Film Censorship, and the Delhi High Court judgement in the M.F. Husain case.
Public lecture by Dr. Arshiya Lokhandwala, Founder and Curator of Lakeeren Art Gallery, Mumbai and Art Historian
Devi Darshan: A Gift of Love
The catalogue text for Devi, the exhibition of Indian Goddess at the Arthur M. Sacker Gallery, Washington D.C., contemplates that “there is no great Goddess but when activated, every Goddess is the great Goddess.” Dr. Lokhandwala considers this proposition by discussing the installation of Anita Dube'sImitations of Morality (1997) and two photographic works by Vidya KamatBeing Kumari and In Sacred Time (2005). She attempts in this lecture to explore the reciprocal aspect of darshan, the Indian concept of seeing God in the act of worship. She employs the psychoanalytical concept of Kaja Silverman of the “ethics of the field of vision” as a reference point to further her analysis of cultural practices related to Devi worship.
Public lecture by Santhosh Sadanandan, Assistant Professor at the School of Culture and Creative Expressions, Ambedkar University, Delhi
August 24th, 2013
Craft of Primitivism: The History of Institutionalization of Culture in Modern India
The lecture is an attempt to revisit debates around craft and the nation, and question the construction of a primitive discourse around subaltern communities. This primitive discourse has played a vital role in the construction of the subaltern as objects of exotic purity and curiosity, as well as objects for/of reformation. Thus craft becomes a site against/towards which multiple gazes come together – the governmental, the elite; where notions such as modernity, secularism, and civil society occur. Keeping in mind this larger historical paradigm, Santhosh attempts to deconstruct the illusion, that any craft can be fully understood as an ‘autonomous objects’, removed from their social and historical contexts. According to Santhosh, this approach prioritizes the formal, morphological and surface characteristics of the observed object. He attempts to explore the limits of notions like primitivism and their various ramifications, by analysing few instances from the history of the institutionalization of craft in modern India (namely the formation of Santiniketan and National Craft Museum) in this presentation.
Public lecture by Pedro Gadanho, Curator of Contemporary Architecture in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
Curating Architecture as Critical Practice - From Independent to Institutional Contexts
Established in 1932, MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design was the first curatorial department devoted to architecture and design ever created in a museum context. From its inception, it has built a collection that today includes 28,000 works ranging from large-scale design objects to works on paper and architectural models. This collection is also the main platform from which many of the Department’s exhibitions are organized, so as to offer the public new interpretations of modern and contemporary architectural production. In this lecture, Gadanho confronted this institutional vision with the notion of a critical practice of curating architecture.
Public lecture by Shukla Sawant, Visual artist and currently an Associate Professor of Visual Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Out of India: Landscape Paintings Beyond the Picturesque Frame
The lecture draws attention to landscape painting in India, during the roughly one hundred and fifty year period between the Permanent Settlement Act of 1793 and 1947. The primary focus will be the work of artists who emerged from the social and intellectual world of art institutions, which were introduced to India in the late nineteenth century. By providing a historical context for understanding how “native” artists who entered these institutions, de-stabilized and de-centered the discourse of imperial landscape painting connected to surveillance and documentation, the lecture will throw light on a body of work from regions such as Kolhapur and Mysore.
Public lecture by Vidya Shivadas, Curator
Site Under Construction – Notes on the Contemporary Art Museum
The exhibition Zones of Contact: Propositions on the Museum has been co-curated by Vidya, along with Akansha Rastogi and DeekshaNath, at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Noida. Her lecture forms part of the working notes on the current exhibition, and examines the contours of the contemporary art museum in the subcontinent. It takes its cues from James Clifford’s formulation of the museum as ‘Contact Zones’, where the museum is cast into a transitional space activated by the complex interplay of cultures and communities coming into contact and engaging with each other. The exhibition becomes a starting point to think about the future of private museums that are beginning to play a significant role in the institutional landscape of India, and how they intend to address diverse audiences and the accompanying questions of exclusion and inclusion. Vidya intends to question the forms and canons that will be set into place by these new museums. She intends to look at how they will connect with complex issues of representation and identity formations taking place in the age of globalization.
Public lecture by Suresh Jayaram, Visual artist and art writer
1 Shanti Road – Synergies of a Social Space
In the 10 years that it has been around, 1 Shanti Road has become the fulcrum of Bengaluru’s contemporary art scene. It serves as an example of institutional critique of art spaces surviving in the ‘solidarity economics’ of other alternative venues in the city.It has supported emerging artists by showcasing their work, through residencies and shows as well as provided a vibrant and alternative space for dialogue and discussions by seasoned artists and scholars. Started by Jayaram in 2003, it attempts to expand the scope of home from being merely a private enclosure, liberating the art discourse from institutionalized learning. Even the architecture of the space reflects its aim of reconnecting the individual with the community: challenging the visitor’s notion of a home and family, and a studio and gallery. Jayaram will talk about this “studio gallery” and its attempt at freeing the art gallery from its conventional impression as the rarified domain of the well-heeled and ‘discerning’ patrons, thereby re-establishing a symbiotic relationship between art, the artist and the environment.
Public lecture by Rasna Bhushan, Hyderabad-based art historian and independent curator
Being Moved- The Kochi Muziris Biennale
RasnaBhushan spoke on the significance of India’s first Biennale, the Kochi – Muziris Biennale which opened on 12.12.2012 and closed on 13.3.2013. She explored how the Biennale gradually brought into the audience’s consciousness, art as process and as labour. While discussing individual artworks, she addressed the idea of the Biennale as a large site - and history-specific installation which self-reflexively re-invented the relationships between art and artistic communities, the State and culture, the regional and the cosmopolitan, a city and its peoples.
Public lecture by Yashodhara Dalmia, Art Critic
Amrita Sher-Gil: Passage to India
Dalmia’s lecture traced the journey of one of the most significant artists in India, from her early training in Paris to her triumphant return to India, where she influenced the course of modern art and generations of artists. Amrita Sher-Gil’s time spent studying at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and her exposure to Indian art at the MuseeGuimet allowed her to appreciate India’s classical and pictorial depths. While remembering Sher-Gil on her 100th birth anniversary this year, Dalmia aimed to trace her journey to India where the gifted and flamboyant artist produced a series of vivid portraits of Indian village during her short and dramatic life. Sher-Gil is largely acknowledged as the first woman artist to make a mark in the history of Indian art and the extent to which this became an important signifier was also discussed.
Public lecture by Rahaab Allana, Curator, Alkazi Foundation
The Afterlife of Images
Exhibitions of photography have been understood in terms of the imperial, modern and post-colonial, and have therefore been part of a collective enterprise, representing the complexities between past and present. Even the photographer’s subjectivity is questioned, together with the camera’s ‘framing’ of time: its ability to reveal, censor, alter and re-orient. But how are these understood when dealing with images whose authors no longer exist? Allana aims to look at archives and its afterlife, where this depth of field haunts the photographs that have no living author. These photographs are often viewed as timeless: a world in which the temporal, spatial and historical form ephemeral links and express the fraught relationship between the personal, self-conscious and the aesthetic. Photography to this extent signifies a complex system: art-practice, visual mode, a process, a tool and hence, an absorbing, malleable means of representation. Allana’s talk will be a reflection through exhibitions curated and assisted by the Alkazi Foundation.
Public lecture by Dr. Jyotindra Jain, Noted Art and Cultural Historian
Collage as Visual Strategy: Reconfiguring the Divine and the Political in Indian Popular Visual Culture
Dr. Jain discussed how an eclectic range of imagery from the changing world of colonial India became instrumental in evolving a visual language of collage and citation which, in turn, acted as a vehicle of cultural force, creating and negotiating interstices between the sacred, the erotic, the political and the colonial modern. To this aim, Dr Jain analyzed a number of collaged pictures framed and displayed in the palatial homes of merchants of the Shekhavati region in Rajasthan. In these collages, imported prints of European landscapes or scenery painted by artists from Nathadwara (in Rajasthan), which often mimicked the colonial mansions of their patrons, were used as a background over which figures cut out from popular prints depicting religious or nationalist subjects were superimposed, to tactically reconfigure the images and their meaning.
Public lecture by Dr. Sanjoy Kumar Mallik, Associate Professor and HOD, Dept. of History of Art, Kala Bhavana, VisvaBharati, Santiniketan
The Transforming Language of Visual Art in Bengal: Chittaprosad and Gopal Ghose
Bengal in the 1940’s saw a distinct shift in approaches and attitudes to visual articulation. In the midst of tumultuous political developments and a renewed effort towards independence, the visual arts were caught between political realism and formal modernism as alternatives for a linguistic choice. For Mallik, both these approaches sought to catapult art out of the dominant refrain of nationalist aspirations on the one hand as well as the staid conventions of art school pedagogy on the other. He attempts to map out the dynamics of these alternatives through case studies of individuals who opted for either - or both - of these alternative choices. Mallik looks at two artists, Chittaprosad and Gopal Ghose, in an attempt to comprehend the changing scenario in early modern painting. The presentation draws on two recent exhibitions by the speaker on these artists, providing an art historian’s narrative of the process and experience of putting the two exhibitions together.
Public lecture by Ingval Maxwell, OBE, Conservation Architect
Place and Communities: A historical perspective on local materials, techniques and traditions in the UK
In the context of international conservation charters and conventions set up to protect our architectural heritage, this lecture by Sir Ingval will illustrate a broad range of traditional buildings and the diversity of building materials used in their construction and subsequent conservation. In an effort to promote international cooperation, the International Council on Monuments and Sites’ (ICOMOS) International Training Committee was set up to provide training and education in the protection, conservation ad revitalization of monuments and built heritage. Sir Ingval will address the application of the internationally recognised ICOMOS Education and Training Guidelines in two scenarios - the integrated gathering of knowledge to create an understanding of 19th century rural farm buildings, and the application of specialist requirements involved in converting 18th century Duff House, considered one of Britain’s finest Georgian houses, into a country house gallery.
Public lecture by Beth Citron, Assistant Curator at the Rubin Museum of Art, New York
Modernist Art from India
Beginning in 2011, the Rubin Museum of Art, New York, initiated the exhibition series Modernist Art in India. Through the three consecutive exhibitions in this series, the Museum expanded the geographic scope of its exhibitions and reinforced its commitment to modern and contemporary art. The three part exhibition focuses on various themes: Body Unbound showcased the figurative works of post-Independence artists, while Approaching Abstraction took a look at experimentations in abstraction in both painting and film. After briefly discussing the first two parts of the series, Beth will particularly focus on the third, ongoing show, Radical Terrain, which looks at diverse explorations of landscape, showing how landscape was a means for artists to come to terms with the vastness of India as a new nation. The show also features new work by international contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds currently working in and identifying with landscape. This is both a response to the modernist paintings on view and to work towards a nuanced conceptual understanding of what “landscape” in art is.
Public lecture by Dr. Shridhar Andhare, Art Historian
Jain Monumental Painting
In this lecture, Dr. Andhare will examine the Jain tradition of monumental painting known as patas, which like their miniatures, were considered essential for the accumulation of spiritual wisdom, and depicted scenes from Jain myth as well as the daily life of the faithful. Dr Andhare’s lecture provides a rare glimpse into this rich tradition, most of which still remains within the precincts of Jain bhandars and private collections. These patas mainly fall under two categories: tantric and non-tantric, the former includes diagrams or mantras known as yantras made according to descriptions given in religious texts, while the latter include chitrapatas (cloth paintings) which do not confirm to any tantrikvidhi or ritual procedures.
Public lecture by Dr. Ratan Parimoo, Noted art historian
Sources and Development of Rabindranath Tagore’s Paintings
While Rabindranath Tagore’s life has been the subject of many studies, books and symposiums, there remains much to be learnt about this versatile genius, who began to paint only in his sixties. Dr. Parimoo takes a look at the avant-garde artist, whose painting activity emerged independent of his literary interests. Tagore’s practice began in an unpremeditated manner, and what resulted was a phantasmagoria of animal and bird forms. He turned to human faces, using them as studies in character and expression. To his repertoire of imageries, he added the genre of landscape, atmosphere and space. In his lecture, Dr. Parimoo explores Tagore’s disregard for both Naturalism and the Indian traditional pictorial style, and traces the evolution of his unique manner of using lines, colour application and configurations.
Public lecture by Ram Rahman, Photographer
The Tradition of the Documentary Photograph
Sunil Janah, Walker Evans, Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Brassai, each of these photographers made a body of work which was epic in scale and rooted in their own cultures. Ram will talk about the nature of the photographic medium and its documentary language, the tradition of social documentary photography and its continuing relevance. Rahman will also talk about Federico Fellini’s film La Dolce Vita and its inspiration from the 'page 3' tabloid photographers in Rome in the late 1950's, especially TazioSecchiaroli. It will be an exploration of how an artist takes from reality, the transformations they make, and how creative subjectivity enters their œuvre.
Public lecture by Naman Ahuja, Art historian
Legacies of the Arts and Crafts Movement in India: Modernism and Swadeshi
The history of the Arts and Crafts Movement has rarely been looked at outside the Euro-American Sphere. This is paradoxical, as this was the one Movement of Modern Art that was most impacted by the aesthetic philosophies of India, China and Japan. In turn, the Arts and Crafts Movement had no small impact had on Gandhi, Tagore and Coomaraswamy, and through them it went on to impact the Indian Freedom Struggle and the rallying cry of swadeshi. It inspired the creation of India’s earliest art-schools, -colleges and museums. Later, its polemics went on to inform the policy for Indian folk/ village/ small-scale art and industry. For Ahuja, when curators and artists are busy incorporating the ‘vernacular in the contemporary’ (to borrow a phrase) - then it certainly becomes germane to see what the political/ social/ and philosophical history for such an inclusion are.
Lecture by Dr. Kavita Singh, Art Historian and Associate Professor at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU
Place for People in the Indian Museum
Right from the inception of public museums in India in the 19th century, several museum keepers have noted the huge amount of visitors their institutions attract. Who are these visitors, and why do they come to the museum? What do they get from their visit? Instead of critiquing what Indian museums are unable to do, if we try to study what Indian museums are doing for their audiences, will it help us understand their social presence differently? Beginning with an exploration of the meaning of the museum in India for its subaltern audiences, this presentation will draw on cross-cultural teaching materials and Singh’s own research on South Asian museums to discuss the ways in which ‘the people’ have figured in museum discourse and practice: as recipients of the museum’s pedagogy; subjects of social engineering experiments; ethnographic objects for display; supports for post-colonial experiments in multi-culturality; and a late-democratic rhetoric of popular representation, asking if the museum can really ever be a place for a radical praxis.
Lecture by Dr. Annapurna Garimella, Designer and Art Historian
The Vernacular in the Contemporary
Contemporary vernacular art in India includes craft, folk, tribal, ritual, temple, classical, domestic, self-taught and sometimes popular art forms and practices. This umbrella category sees and produces a collaborative and conflictual relationship between these various art forms and also acknowledges the inherent diversity of the vernacular art sphere, while also positioning them in a critical, questioning relationship with the prevalent idea of the contemporary. Garimella will discuss these issues through the history of exhibitions and specific curatorial practices in modern, post-Independence India and conclude by thinking about how contemporary vernacular and urban artists engage with the idea of the vernacular.
Lecture by Rupert Richard Arrowsmith, Research Associate, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University College, London
September 1st, 2012
The Face of the Buddha: The Writing of William Empson’s Lost Book on Buddhist Art
Most people know William Empson as an English poet, philosopher, and literary critic who lived in Japan and China between the 1930’s and 1950’s, and travelled extensively all over southern and Eastern Asia. Very few people know, however, that the reason Empson undertook these travels was in order to satisfy a consuming interest in Buddhist sculpture that shaped his later thinking not only about Asian visual art, but about religion and ethics in the West as well. This interest of Empson’s culminated in the writing of a book, The Face of the Buddha, which Empson considered one of his most important works. To his dismay, however, the manuscript for it was lost just after the Second World War, and was not rediscovered until 2006. Dr. Arrowsmith’s talk will explain how The Face of the Buddha came to be written, explore William Empson’s unique and highly personal observations on Asian art, and highlight the importance of this new publication to a cosmopolitan, global audience.
Lecture by Dr. Parul Dave Mukherji
August 18th, 2012
Beyond Melancholia: Art Writing in the age of Loss of Authority
The current art scene presents a paradox- there is a burgeoning art practice visible at various international exhibitionary spaces at the same time there is a gradual recognition that the centre of the art market has shifted to the East, Far East, south Asia. While this may be celebrated as a wider reach of art and the art market and the rise of the new public, who are more and more situated outside the west, this euphoria is not matched by trends in art writing.
Documentation, archival and catalogue writing have taken precedence over a more historical and critical art writing at a time when contemporary art is doing brisk business at art fairs. Among the leading art critics and art historians, a sense of unease and nostalgia prevails that judicious criticism has taken a back seat. Is this anxiety stemming from a loss of authority of art historians and art critics and their Eurocentric discourse or is this a symptom of a broadening of the field itself? This lecture attempted to look beyond the rhetoric of loss towards a democratization of aesthetics itself.
Lecture by Shukla Sawant
May 26th, 2012
Artists’ Collectives and the Solidarity Economies of Art
In Bangalore, over the last decade, artist-run spaces and collaborative practices have created a compelling alternative to gallery and museum based economies of art. Organic and constantly evolving; breaking away from established exhibition formats and often surviving through the voluntary efforts of a number of individuals who have concentrated on building relationships among fellow artists, these experiments with “solidarity economies” are in fact inspired by the efforts of an earlier generation of artists whose efforts have often been overlooked. The lecture will offer an overview of the making of this distinctive ‘art world’ from the 1920’s onwards. This paper will be published by Heildelberg University, Germany, shortly.
Lecture by Vidya Shivadas
May 18th, 2012
Vision from the Centre: The setting up of National Cultural Institutions in independent India
In the immediate years following independence the formation of national museums and art organizations took on an unprecedented urgency. The National Museum, a repository of India’s tradition and heritage, was formed in 1949. The National Gallery of Modern Art and Lalit Kala Akademi came up in 1954. They signaled the nation’s commitment to values of modernism and preceded such institutions in many other post-colonial nations by at least three decades. This paper examined the setting up of these institutions and the role they played in the making of ‘national culture’. By looking at their specific institutional histories, it examined how they grappled with issues of centralization, identity, Indian-ness, tradition and modernity and presented the symbolic centres of the national cultural imaginary.
Lecture by Suresh Jayaram
May 12th, 2012
Curating the Colombo Art Biennale 2012: Thoughts and Experiences
“Becoming”, the theme at the Colombo Art Biennale 2012, responded to the avant-garde demand for the integration of art and life. The five day event, held from the 15th to the 19th of February 2012, was a significant landmark: it opened up a politically conscious and socially engaged discourse by the two curators - Roman Berka (Vienna) and Suresh Jayaram (India).
The idea of “Becoming” can be thought of as “transitional period” or “space of transition”. Becoming is about is neither about the past, nor the future, it is about the present and has high potentiality in between two stages of being. It can be interpreted in the context of the history of Sri Lanka but it can also be seen on a global scale, politically or concerning questions of humanity. The Biennale was conceived as a laboratory, an experimental field where Sri Lankan, regional and international artists could reflect on social realities through their art. The exhibiting artists worked across a variety of media including painting, sculpture, installation, performance, photography, video and film.
Lecture by Ashish Rajadhyaksha
May 5th, 2012
The Baroda School - Some Retrospective Hypotheses
In this lecture, Ashish Rajadhyaksha presented a retrospective look at ‘The Baroda School’. The Baroda School constituted a brief and flourishing movement that can perhaps be dated as occurring between the Place for People exhibition (Mumbai & Delhi, 1981) and the rise of the art market, following economic liberalization. In its relatively brief period, the movement constituted a diverse set of practices which went considerably beyond the visual arts, to include parallel practices in theatre, film and intellectual thought as reflected in several independent journals, as well as a set of pedagogic practices at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University.
Lecture by Dr. Parul Dave Mukherji, Dean, School of Arts & Aesthetics, JNU
April 21st, 2012
Professor Parul Dave Mukherji (D.Phil, Oxford) spoke on Entangled Temporality: Contemporary Indian Artists and Their Retakes on the Golden Age
Lecture by Rupert Richard Arrowsmith, Research Associate, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University College London
April 14th, 2012
The Asian Origins of Modernism: How Indian and Japanese Visual Culture shaped Early Twentieth Century Art and Literature in London
Dr. Arrowsmith’s talk threw light on the cultural histories written in Europe and the United States which normally imagine that Modernist sculpture, painting and poetry was invented in the West and then imitated in Asia. Dr. Arrowsmith replaced this outdated, provincial approach with a global and cosmopolitan view by arguing that Western Modernism was actually part of an international symphony of simultaneous, mutually dependent cultural movements whose influence flowed at least as powerfully from East to West as the other way around. His lecture was to demonstrate conclusively that a great many ‘innovations’ in early twentieth century British art and literature were derived directly from the visual cultures of Southern and Eastern Asia. In particular, the early sculptures of Jacob Epstein and Eric Gill (London’s first Modernist sculptors) were shown to have derived iconography, aesthetic approaches and techniques directly from Indian temple carvings. London’s poets, too, were shown to have developed Imagism (the city’s first movement in Modernist poetry) from a study of Japanese art.
Lecture by Dr. Raman Siva Kumar, Senior Professor, Visva-Bharati University, Shantiniketan, Kolkata
Dr. Raman Siva Kumar spoke on Meaning to Presence: Rabindranath Tagore’s Emergence as a Painter. This lecture looked at what led to Rabindranath Tagore’s late emergence as a painter. Tagore, aside from being a Nobel Prize winning poet and a multifaceted writer, was a musician, thinker and social leader. He emerged as a painter as well, but only when he was in his mid-60s. His interest in painting, however, dates back to his early years. Dr. Siva Kumar discussed this emergence as well as some of the salient features of Tagore’s works.
A dialogue between Sheba Chhachhi and Kavita Singh
December 4th, 2011
Lecture by Francis Morris and Jessica Morgan, Tate Modern, UK
December 2nd, 2011
Lecture by Savia Viegas, Historian and Writer, Goa
November 26th, 2011
SaviaViegas, art historian and writer based in Goa, will speak on Angelo da Fonseca’s new Swadeshi Lexicon for Christian Art
Lecture by Gregory Irvine, V&A Museum, London
Gregory Irvine, Senior Curator, V&A, London spoke on the Japanese collection at the V&A, Collecting and Exhibition Japan at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Lecture by Beth McKillop, V&A Museum, London
Ms. McKillop, deputy director of the V&A, London spoke on the topic Chinese Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum
Lecture by Michael John Wheeler, Senior Paper Conservator, V&A Museum, London
Mr. Wheeler, Senior Paper Conservator gave a presentation ofConservation Options, Solutions and Dilemmas - The John Forbes Watson Sample Books and other works on paper
Lecture by Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photography, V&A Museum, London
Mr. Barnes, Senior Curator for Photography at the V&A London spoke on Curating Contemporary Photography at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Lecture by Rahaab Allana, Alkazi Foundation, New Delhi
Rahaab, who is the curator of the Alkazi Collection of Photography, spoke on the topic Performance for Camera: Early Studio Photography in Mumbai
Lecture by Ms. Moira Gemmill, Director, Projects & Design, V & A Museum, London
Ms. Gemmill gave a presentation on Future Plan - V&A’s ambitious redevelopment project
Lecture by Dr. Colin Cunningham<, Chairman, Victorian Society, United Kingdom
Dr. Cunningham gave a lecture on the topic of Victoria & Albert Museums In London and Mumbai - A Reflection Of Nature Of Museum And Their Buildings
Lecture by Mr. Nilabh Sinha, Director INTACH Art Conservation Centre, New Delhi
Mr. Sinha spoke on the topic of the Conservation of Oil Paintings
Lecture by Dr. Vidya Dehejia
Dr. Dehejia gave an illustrated talk on Whose Taste? Indian Silver for the Raj, which explored the different facets of production and consumption of Indian silver during the 19th century. Dr. Dehejia is the Barbara Stoler Miller Professor of Indian Art at Columbia University, New York. She was the Curator at the Smithsonian Museum’s Freer and Sackler galleries which hold large collections of Indian art.
Lecture by Dr. Mark Evans, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Dr. Evans, who is presently the Senior Curator, Paintings, at the V&A and an authority in Renaissance painting, gave a lecture on Image And Identity: Asia And The UK as Reflected by the Art Collections of The Victoria and Albert Museum
Lecture by Ms. Sandra Smith, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Ms. Sandra Smith, Head of Conservation, V&A, presented a lecture on Conserving the Collections in the V&A: Discovery and Revelation. The talk highlighted the role of the Conservation Department in the preparation of the collections for display within and beyond the V&A.
Lecture by Professor Partha Mitter
Professor Mitter, Professor Emeritus at the University of Sussex spoke on the Foundations of Modern Art in India: Amrita Sher-Gil, Rabindranath Tagore and Jamini Roy - 1922-1947.