Indian art comes together across three decades and three generations in a new documentary film.
The world premiere of To Let the World In, a two-part documentary film featuring three generations of India’s visual artists by director and cinematographer Avijit Mukul Kishore, debuted at the Sheffield Doc/Fest, in South Yorkshire, UK on 13 and 14 June 2013.
To Let the World In documents the development of contemporary art in India for the last thirty years, starting from the 1980s to the present.
The film previewed in Pune and Trivandrum, India, before its UK screening at Sheffield Doc/Fest. It was produced by Art Chennai to accompany the show “To Let The World In: Narrative and Beyond in Contemporary Indian Art“, curated by Chaitanya Sambrani. The exhibition, which was held in Chennai in 2012, featured three generations of Indian artists.
According to the exhibition’s curatorial statement,
The fundamental premise of the exhibition stems from the post-colonial subject’s assertion of being a legitimate inheritor of multiple traditions: from India, from the Asian region, and from the wider world.
To Let the World In, Part 1
Part 1 of the documentary begins with what Afterall described as the landmark 1981 exhibition “Place for People” in Delhi and Bombay (now Mumbai). The project was undertaken collectively by artists Jogen Chowdhury, Bhupen Khakhar, Nalini Malani, Sudhir Patwardhan, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Vivan Sundaram and critic Geeta Kapur to explore narrative painting, but grew into an “engagement with locality, class and politics” according to Indian art blog Saffronart.
To Let the World In, Part 2
The second part of the film features the younger generation of artists, a group that witnessed the liberalisation of their country’s economy, an event which triggered, according to Indian arts blog Kalpana, “the re-assertion of religious fundamentalism in Indian politics.”
To Let the World In also highlights the lack of progression in India’s art institutes, notes ARTINFO. Young artists who were influenced by the narrative and figuration movement in the 1980s became focused on “history, subjectivity and the politics of place.”
The inclusion of artists such as Shilpa Gupta, T.V. Santosh, Sharmila Samant, Gigi Scaria, Reena Saini Kallat, Tushar Joag, and Jitish Kallat shows that India’s young artists are concerned with history and engaged with the artists who came before them, according to the documentary.
Filmmaker Avijit Mukul Kishore
Cinematographer and film director Avijit Mukul Kishore, or Mukul, as he likes to be called, studied cinematography at the Film and Television Training Institute (FTII) in Pune in 1995, and then moved to Mumbai, where he is now based.
He has directed several feature-length films, exhibiting them in international film festivals like the Berlinale. He has worked on popular TV programmes as a cameraman and has been involved in numerous documentary films.
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- Asian Art Museum’s “Phantoms of Asia”: 5 Indian artists contemplate tradition – July 2012 – Raqib Shaw, Jagannath Panda, Varunika Saraf, Prabhavathi Meppayil and NS Harsha create works that talk with the artefacts they sit next to
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