Nomadic exhibition project Parked launches in New Delhi

Kanika Anand, Founder of the curatorial platform Parked, introduces her brand new nomadic exhibition project to Art Radar.

The nomadic exhibition concept Parked, launched by curator and art writer Kanika Anand, originates from the need to rethink the format of existing brick and mortar galleries, and provides new formats and spaces for artists’ visibility. The platform was first installed within the Delhi-based Gallery Threshold, as part of the Delhi Photo Festival 2015, with the group show “I See You See Me” (23 October – 15 November 2015).

Waswo X. Waswo, 'We Are Always Working Hand-painted', 2014.

Waswo X. Waswo, ‘We Are Always Working’, 2014, Black and white digital print, hand-coloured by Rajesh Soni. Image courtesy the artist.

The contemporary Indian art scene is the hot topic among every art curator and critic, and counts among its artists internationally acknowledged names such as Subodh Gupta, Anish Kapoor and Atul Dodiya. In a country where local government support is feeble, if not absent, who are the movers and shakers responsible for such global recognition? Despite its limited presence at international biennials and fairs, contemporary Indian art has caught worldwide attention thanks to the efforts of UK-based private initiatives: the Serpentine Gallery, the Tate Modern with the travelling group exhibition “Indian Highway” (2008-2009) and the Saatchi Gallery showing “The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today” in 2010. 

Today’s Indian art market sees the contemporary still fiercely struggling with the modern. The majority of the affluent collectors devote their fortunes to the latter – namely to Indian Masters like S.H. Raza, Tyeb Mehta, Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, M.F. Husain, Amrita Sher-Gil, or artists of the Bengal School. 

With galleries not reaching wider audiences, emerging artists caught in the shadow of eminent celebrity artists and a miniscule base of collectors, India’s contemporary art scene may appear rather depressing. Still, in Delhi, for instance, although the scene is not very mature, the public has shown moments of vivid appreciation for contemporary art, when exhibited in public spaces such as malls, restaurants and places charged with familiar attributes.

In 2011, New Delhi-based artist Vibha Galhotra presented the inflatable sculpture of an earth mover machine from the series Neo Monsters in the atrium of Select Citywalk Mall in the Saket District. It was a large-scale, highly tactile installation project that, according to the blog dedicated to the project, is [Galhotra’s] continuation of a half a decade long engagement with the ‘city'”. Community-based projects have been promoted by artist-run space Khoj Studio, where the residency and event programmes embrace talks, performances and exhibitions in which community-building and socially engaged practice are at stake.

Khvay Samnang, 'Air', 2011, Digital C-Print, 80 x 120 cm, Edition of 7 + 2AP. Image courtesy the artist and SA SA BASSAC 3.

Khvay Samnang, ‘Air’, 2011, Digital C-Print, 80 x 120 cm, Edition of 7 + 2AP. Image courtesy the artist and Sa Sa Bassac.

In the wake of major initiatives like the India Art Fair with its next edition taking place from 28 to 31 January 2016, and the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, metropolises like New Delhi strive hard to make the cultural context as lively as possible. Tunty Chauhan, owner and director of Gallery Threshold, tells Art Radar:

The Kochi Biennale has proved to be a game changer with it taking contemporary art beyond the museum and gallery into the public realm. The India Art Fair has also had a very positive effect on the audience, though it’s again fueled by the market.

Milwaukee-born Udaipur-based artist Waswo X, describing the key players in Delhi’s art scene in the same vein to Art Radar, says:

People like Bhavna Kakar [editor and publisher of TAKE on art] and Siddhartha Tagore [editor and publisher of Art & Deal], who keep the art magazines alive, are obviously influential. All of the gallery owners. The critics. And of course the collectors. The scene would die if not for the occasional sales. Art should not be about money, but it can’t survive in a financial vacuum either, so collectors who take art in India seriously are the most valuable.

Mansi Bhatt in her live performance at Gallery Threshold.

Mansi Bhatt in her live performance at Gallery Threshold. Image courtesy the artist.

Within a framework of commercial galleries that continually lure artsy crowds to openings; artists flocking to the capital to network, garner gallery representation and secure sales for their artworks; and a city always eager for the next hot trend, the latest curatorial platform Parked pushes through and launches its first, brand new concept coupled with a group exhibition organised in conjunction with this year’s edition of Delhi Photo Festival (October 30 – November 8, 2015).

"I See You See Me", (October 23-November 15 2015), Installation view, at Gallery Threshold.

“I See You See Me”, (October 23-November 15 2015), Installation view, at Gallery Threshold. Image courtesy Gallery Threshold.

Started by Delhi-based curator and art writer Kanika Anand, it’s the founder herself who introduces her project to Art Radar:

Parked is a series of collaborative art concept pop-ups, with a roving format that mutates in accordance with a spatial setting and/or theme. Each pop-up is programed to adapt a specific format into another, forge partnerships between creative disciplines and present alternative modes of viewing, engagement and participation. It addresses the activation of space- singular, shared or borrowed, through intervention and insertion of the arts. It is a nomadic exhibition concept that ‘parks’ itself in a new space and format each time, be it in a shop or design studio, a restaurant or café, a theatre or park, a gallery or museum.

Manmeet Devgun with her work 'Home Residency', 2014, Film reel/ Album.

Manmeet Devgun with her work ‘Home Residency’, 2014, Film reel/ Album. Image courtesy the artist.

Surekha, 'Mirror Image', 2015, Digital C-Print on archival paper.

Surekha, ‘Mirror Image’, 2015, Digital C-Print on archival paper. Image courtesy the artist.

For the Delhi Photo Festival, Parked proposed the group exhibition “I See You See Me” that was housed at Gallery Threshold. The project featured international artists based both in New Delhi and abroad such as Rhine Bernardino, Mansi Bhatt, Manmeet Devgan, Wilfred Lim, Khvay Samnang, Melati Suryodarmo, Surekha and Waswo X. According to Anand, the selection of artists

addresses issues of self-image and the politics of identity. Extensive research on selfie-takers shows their heightened occurrence in Asia, with some arguing it is because of censorship and restrictions in other aspects of life, while others see it as a growing confidence in re-defining and asserting a progressive identity. The deliberate selection of artists from or practicing in Asia therefore, accents the image of growing nations and their economies, as seen from within and from without.

Melati Suryodamo, 'Acts of Indecency', 2012, Digital C Print, 35” x 24”, Edition of 5.

Melati Suryodarmo, ‘Acts of Indecency’, 2012, Digital C-Print, 35” x 24”, Edition of 5. Image courtesy the artist.

Anand continues explaining that the exhibition

explores the performative nature of both the artist’s self-portrait and the smartphone captured selfie, in order to open parallel dialogues around artistic license and authorship as well as identity politics of the self vs the other. The exhibition gathers a range of photo-performance works where the frame of the photograph serves as the stage for the artist to act out an issue or record a certain concern. It questions the role of the photographic medium in affording the artist a document of truth and re-evaluates if the artist’s performances reflect the fictions we play out everyday in order to be heard.

The platform Parked proposes an alternative way to engage new audiences in art, while broadening the currently small cluster of collectors buying from Delhi galleries. It is an opportunity not just to bring some fresh air in terms of artists and concepts to brick and mortar galleries and institutions, but also an occasion for artists to exhibit in commercial spaces to which they would not normally have access.

Carmen Stolfi

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Related topics: curators, photography, performancecuratorial practice, gallery shows, events in New Delhi

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