ARTIST RESIDENCY INDIA GALLERY SHOWS AUCKLAND
In the three years that Art Radar has been covering India-based international artist residency programme Sowing Seeds, we have watched the festival grow from a local to a global event. In 2012, organiser and curator Vagaram Choudhary will bring the project’s latest artistic outcomes to an international audience.
Organised by the Kaman Art Foundation, residency project Sowing Seeds brings together artists from around the world and exposes them to village life and local artistic practice in rural Rajasthan, India. In both 2010 and 2011, Art Radar met with Choudhary to discuss the inauguration and progress of this five-year-long project. This year we spoke with participating artists Brydee Rood (New Zealand) and Ekaterina Kravtsova (Russia) about “Ram Ram!”, an Auckland exhibition of some of the Sowing Seeds works, and how their experience in the village of Gelawas, the 2011-2012 site for the third and most recent rendition of Sowing Seeds, has affected their ongoing practice.
While the work produced by artists participating in the second Sowing Seeds in 2011 was shown in a gallery space in Jodhpur, India, called Khaas Bagh, it did not reach international audiences other than through images in print and online. This year, artist Brydee Rood was keen to gain overseas exposure for the project and assisted residency programme curator and organiser Vagaram Choudhary in putting together “Ram Ram!“. Rood said, “I just wanted to get the ball rolling and continue the exchange of ideas and work”.
“Ram Ram!”, an evening art event held on 22 February 2012 at Auckland art space Snake Pit, showcased the work of five Sowing Seeds artists. The name of the show, which means “hello” or “welcome” in the dialect that is spoken in Gelawas, was borrowed from the sound piece created by artist Snežana Golubović (Serbia) that greeted the arriving audience. Performance documentation and video works followed, some of which can be viewed on Snake Pit’s website.
Among the work shown at the event was documentation of Brydee Rood’s performance piece Spiriting Waste. The video depicts dancer Asharam Kumar and a sacred cow moving through the village wearing art pieces made out of recycled materials and solar panels. “There was an incredible energy in the local dances and it was one of the very first things I felt an instant connection to,” she says of her inspiration for the work.
She had to collaborate closely with the villagers in order to create Spiriting Waste, even helping them to find a cow that was gentle enough to take part in the performance, and this caused her to become “more accepting of the processes involved [in] the creation of an idea”. As she explains, “something new could unfold through the action of trying to make something happen”.
This insight is evident in Rood’s choice to use slowed footage in the video documentation of her performance, a feature which she says was arrived at by “intuitive accident”.
Initially I slowed my footage down because I wanted to see what happened to [the] movements; I had a feeling they would become more ritualistic.… I realised you could hear the bells resonating with a deep quality that was inaudible at regular speed.
Arriving in the village with “only a small suitcase, four general waste rubbish bags and some solar lights”, Rood was determined to find and connect meaningful ideas at a local level. “I am driven by making new experiences in art, not necessarily creating more things,” she explains. Local children were especially eager to get involved, although having so many helping hands was, at times, a challenge for Rood because, as she playfully states, “artists are often quite solitary and isolated workers.”
Russian artist Ekaterina Kravtsova cites a desire to explore India beyond the experience of a tourist among the reasons for wanting to be a part of Sowing Seeds. “I was excited by [the] opportunity to live in a rural place with [the] local community, to explore their habits,” she explains.
Her work, called Time Conservation, was also included in the “Ram Ram!” screening, and through it Kravtsova depicts the marriage and household customs of local women. “I didn’t think to make a project about women before I came to this residency. Obviously the environment gave me a theme and shaped my work,” she says, echoing Rood’s statements about the need for flexibility in individual art practice when involved in a project like Sowing Seeds.
I find working with the community to be a very interesting process, useful for both sides, [it’s] a process of exchanging thoughts, culture and experience. [It taught me] to be more flexible, more open to unexpected situations, because the reality always gives you presents.
Work by Sowing Seeds residency participants Letícia Bertagna from Brazil and Colombian artist Pablo Fernandez was shown in “Ram Ram!” alongside that of Rood, Snežana and Kravtsova.
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- Second Sowing Seeds India artist residency embraces performance art – July 2011 – read more about last year’s residency in India
- 2 Japanese video artists at Auckland Arts Festival 2011 – profile – March 2011 – Ko Nakajima and Kentaro Taki explore technology and consumption
- Controversial “Kamoan” artist Andy Leleisi’uao to complete inaugural Taiwanese arts residency – April 2010 – learn about other New Zealand artists taking part in international residency programmes
- Indian contemporary artist Reena Kallat: Art Radar exclusive interview – April 2010 – interview with Indian artist on influences and art scene in India
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