CISA Fellows 2018 Curated Exhibitions

Khoj International Artists’ Association in partnership with Goethe Institut is pleased to announce the opening of 13 curated exhibitions on 5 December, 2018. These exhibitions are the culmination of the Curatorial Intensive South Asia 2018 Program which brought together fellows from Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Unparalleled as one of the only programs of its kind, it aims to develop the next generation of promising curators in South Asia.

The first part of the Curatorial Intensive brought the fellows together in July 2018 for a two week intensive workshop that looked at curatorial histories, strategies and debates pertinent to the South Asian context. The workshop was led by Dr. Leonhard Emmerling and Natasha Ginwala with guests lecturers including Dr. Kavita Singh, Nancy Adajania, Abhay Sardesai, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Dr. Annapurna Garimella, Naman Ahuja along with other experts from the region.

The fellows were then given an opportunity to curate an exhibition and were mentored through the process by the tutors of the program while being provided advisory support from Khoj. The culmination of this dialogue results in an incredible diversity of exhibitions that brings together pertinent conversations from across South Asia. The exhibitions on display engage with concerns around feminist and queer history, urbanism, art accessibility and performance.

Here is the list of propositions that the CISA fellows 2018 have conceptualized:

Anuj Daga invites seven artists / architects who draw ideas from sites of construction around them - those that also characterize the everyday contemporary landscape of South Asian cities - within their practice. In his show ‘Under Construction’ participants are expected to engage in the poetics and politics of living that reveals in the maneuvering of construction site - those that involve blockages, dangers, risks, inconveniences on one hand, and amazement, amusement and enjoyment on the other. New vantages are extended to us in diversions and new places are formed in the crevices of inconvenience. The exhibition aims to position South Asian cities as a place of longing and hope but more so as one that invents new forms of life within its process of becoming.

Making Place, curated by Aziz Sohail explores the contours of queer desire and its complex manifestations in the digital age through the work of Karachi-based artist Fazal Rizvi and Delhi-based artist Sandip Kuriakose. Text, video and prints are used to explore broader questions about economy, desire, class and formations of identity that occur through these digital dating apps such as Grindr and Tinder. Underlying in the work is a possibility of these liminal spaces as imagined utopias which dissipates the hard border becoming a way to imagine a possibility of a united South Asia.

Body as Archive co-curated by Hediyeh Azma and Sumedha Bhattacharyya together yet parallely attempt to explore and provoke the politics of their own body as dance practitioners and curators with an archival lens of Indian ‘Classical’ dance Kathak and Iranian ‘National’ dance. Through time-induced, multi- media performance installation, the dancer's body accesses and adds to archive of collective memories of Kathak and Iranian artists . Larger notion of history, truth and memory are evoked by the curators as dance practitioners, through identity that is traditional, but existence that is contemporary.

NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati presents The Public Life of Women - A Feminist Memory Project which she has co-curated with Diwas Raja KC. “To become public is to be seen and accounted for in history.” This multi-chapter exhibition traces the journey of Nepali women from within the boundaries of domesticity to the openness of public life as a move from obscurity to memory. It rides on the feminist impulse to memorialize women’s pasts in the belief that their historical visibility will advance the case for liberation. The exhibition is part of Nepal Picture Library’s on-going effort to create a dedicated women’s archive.

Nayomi Apsara’s Loafing Art aims to bring access to art to those communities who have been historically excluded through a process oriented exhibition which engages with these groups. She worked with young children who reside at a prison border in Colombo. Through community workshops and art education, new works have been created, and are on display in Delhi, revealing the role that art and cultural practices can play in shaping our understanding of complex societal assemblages.

'Urbanism' is man made. Its evolution is organic. It produces its own culture. It inhabits its own precedent. The greatest achievement of urbanism is its ability to solve problems of human inhabitation/settlement. Its greatest aspiration is to inhabit an environment totally man-made. 'Could be urbanism | शायद शहर' हैis a proposition by urbanist Naveen Mahantesh, along with a team of collaborators including architects, film academicians, writers and artists, who forecast the potential of five urban moments to become dominant urban forms in the future, while grounding their realities in the present. #SpeculativeUrbanism

The Unspoken Word, curated by Rahul Gudipudi examines dialogue and its necessary conditions of empathetic listening. The exhibition looks upon the three complicit silences in society of those with agency that refuse to speak, those who are silenced and those who speak often but their words ineffective. Manu Ananth, Leuli Esraghi, Abdullah Al Othman and Diya Naidu together form the Unspoken Word and explore their truths and form responses to shared experiences of violence and alienation and through their works call for a fourth silence, one of collective listening and contemplation.

Somewhere in Between, curated by Sania Galundia recognizes the primordial and universal need to belong. Citizenship, language, gender, education, sexual orientation, religion, and socio-economic background are some important markers one uses to locate her/his belonging. Including works by Ayushman Mitra, Desmond Lazaro and Trisha Bose, the show explores the ambivalent and transient states of belonging and non-belonging in different contexts where the quest for belonging is a common factor.

Sediments: Resisting Anonymity, curated by Sharareh Bajracharya features six artists based in Kathmandu, Nepal -- Sunita Maharjan, Lavkant Chaudhary, Mekh Limbu, Subas Tamang, Sanjeev Maharjan, and Sheelasha Rajbhandari -- who place at the centre their own histories and resist the grand narratives of national development created by those in power. Their act of listening to stories questions and resists the phenomenon of anonymity and amnesia around them. The artists’ works provide a glimpse of how various sediments of parallel and segregated communities settle in the city.

Sumitra Sunder’s installation ‘So you think you know the closet?’ examines how State and society have effectively obscured and dehumanised queer lives. Given the recent landmark Supreme Court Decision striking down section 377, this issue becomes especially pertinent. The exhibition documents the lives of an otherwise vibrant community that was dismissed as ‘a miniscule minority’ in 2013, due to their lack of visibility. Archival material is effectively utilized to show how structures of systemic violence and discrimination have rendered existence as challenging, while also offering possibilities of resistance and community building as a means of survival for queer individuals in India.

ilâj curated by Yasaman Tamizkar focuses on the aspect of Art that is a metaphor for ancient rituals that offers a cure and wellbeing. Sara Ghods, Sadra Wejdani and Hamed Jaberha are three Visual Artists whom their art in a way leads to awareness, an approach towards ilâj (The Cure). Each Artist struggles with issues like Violence, Petrification and consumerism, influenced by being first, the citizen of middle east and then the citizen of planet earth and tries to reflect those experiences through their art.