The Asian Age en Finding the elusive India connect <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 430px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/symphony-rajesh-kumar-913"><img src="" alt="Symphony by Rajesh Kumar" title="Symphony by Rajesh Kumar" class="image image-content_image " width="430" height="287" /></a><p class="caption">Symphony by Rajesh Kumar</p></div> </div><p>There was an opportunity for me to visit a large multi-use building recently that is as modern as modern can be — replete with miles of glass and chrome and steel — to curate appropriate works of art to populate their space, not losing sight of the India connect. For sheer reasons of the vastness of the spaces and their multi usage made the task a relatively challenging one. Needless to say, working within the ubiquitous budgetary constraints is always tight-rope walking. But having said that, keeping the visual aesthetics in place wherein one is making spaces look global and international and yet Indian in genre and idiom is rather intellectually stimulating and aesthetically satisfying from the point of view of keeping art in the focal forefront.</p> <p>My constant endeavour is to facilitate people and organisations to identify art works that are high in quality so as to build collections and not merely populate spaces with art. After all, art costs money and good art needs huge outlays of investments and my attempt is find long-term investments that will necessarily grow and eventually not only pay for themselves, but also pay for some other works that may not have grown as exponentially. I always quote the example of the Maurya Sheraton Hotel in Delhi, which at one point of time – I think it was in 2006, was evaluated at `300 crore (building and land on prime location) and its art collection was valued at `350 crore. Now I am sure the schism would have grown even further – in favour of art. </p> <p>While I sift through hundreds of art works to find the one piece that will be a correct fit for a particular space, for me the journey is an end in itself for I immensely enjoy the process. In a way it is like living a dream to see the vision of the idea to fall in place. My attempt is to find the India connect that sometimes proves to be elusive for I choose to stay away from obvious genres like folk, tribal, traditional for these have been done to death. Within these idioms too my effort is to find the really contemporary if quirky examples. My current favourite is a selfie-taking couple in the Kalighat style. A Madhubani style painting with the Ganga emanating from Lord Shiva’s matted locks and ending up polluted as it reaches the ocean is a perennial darling. We as a culture have very conveniently overlooked contemporary idioms in the folk, traditional and tribal and like to paint them into the museum or kitschy corner and not as a living vibrant tradition that it is.</p> <p>When taking of global connects, I find that while we have a fabulous footprint of classical dance and music — it is a matter of great pride that our classical dancers and musicians have spread the word as great cultural ambassadors in remote parts of the globe — many of them are visiting professors in universities in the US and Europe. However, the outreach of Indian visual arts for several reasons has not been even comparable. </p> <p>The reasons are not too far to seek. We, as the art fraternity and our audiences, have supported figurative art in the guise of appealing to the rock bottom denominator, we as curators and art patrons have played along. That is the starting of a lopsided growth of a kind of art. For figurative art tends to be region specific and consequently doesn’t have that wide an appeal especially in the international arena. Out of its regional context it might find place as best as a small size curio, but can never really hope to find too many takers in a larger context or space.</p> <p>Admittedly it is also to do with a lack of sensibility for cultures beyond one’s own purview of experience. In any case, the levels of diversity in the Indian context are also mind-boggling. But it is also true that figurative art of different genres in the same space tends to look overcrowded. However, the same style or same artist in small doses can look soothing thanks to continuity. I was reminded of a line that an architect friend used to say — a building and its interior space must breathe with one person’s breath. The architect, curator and furniture/interior designer should ideally be aesthetically on the same page from the very early planning stage. For sometimes works can look super imposed like patchworks stuck/pasted on to buildings. But it is always not possible for sheer reasons of logistics, but it is a Utopian dream that I always like to nurture.</p> <p>The policy of new public buildings which have to now follow the rule of two per cent of the total cost of the building for acquiring art works before getting a completion certificate is one of the best ideas for sustained patronage. However, this percentage can be increased to make it attractive and viable for the artists to sell to institutions at a logical price and not necessarily the market price. Not for a minute am I propounding compromising quality, but a relatively equitable distribution goes a long way in making arts self-sufficient. For their part, artists too should support such ventures for it should be a matter of pride to have your work as part of the national institutions. </p> <p>Dr Alka Raghuvanshi is an art writer, curator and artist and can be contacted on <a href=""></a></p> Arts Alka Raghuvanshi Thu, 30 Jun 2016 00:00:00 +0530 509914 at Bishnoi monument gets Punjab govt nod <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 430px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/painting-depicting-sacrifice-amrita-bishnoi-and-her-three-daughters-1730-893"><img src="" alt="A painting depicting the sacrifice of Amrita Bishnoi and her three daughters in 1730." title="A painting depicting the sacrifice of Amrita Bishnoi and her three daughters in 1730." class="image image-content_image " width="430" height="287" /></a><p class="caption">A painting depicting the sacrifice of Amrita Bishnoi and her three daughters in 1730.</p></div> </div><p>Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal Monday approved the upcoming nature park-cum-monument to be developed near Abohar in Fazilka district in the memory of legendary nature lover Amrita Devi Bishnoi and other residents from the Bishnoi community.</p> <p>Meeting a delegation of Bishnoi community led by its President of All India Wildlife Protection Bishnoi Society, Sahab Ram Bishnoi, Badal gave a nod to the layout plan prepared by the state architecture department, which would include a 30-foot-3-inch-high flame in the shape of trunk of a tree to symbolise the passion of Bishnoi’s community for the trees, said an official release.</p> <p>Besides, a water body and statue of legendary tree lover Amrita Devi, who laid down her life along with her three daughters way back in 1730 to save green trees being cut by the Maharaja of Jodhpur at a place known as Khejarli in Marwar, Rajasthan, where all the 363 persons were killed for the sake of protecting trees from being axed.</p> <p>Chief architect Sapna apprised the CM that one inch represented each martyr thus the total height of the flame depicted the sacrifice of 363 martyrs who were brutally killed by the then emperor for their protest against the felling of trees. She also told the chief minister a brief history of this entire episode along with the details of the martyrs would be written on the walls of main entrance leading to the nature park-cum-monument. Badal said that this prestigious project must be completed within six months.</p> <p>Earlier, the Bishnoi delegation honoured the CM with a title of ‘friend of trees (Varaksh Mittar) with siropas, a memento and a painting of Amrita Devi for taking keen interest for the construction of park-cum-monument to eulogise the supreme sacrifice of the Bishnoi community as a protector of trees and wildlife. Expressing gratitude to Badal, the Bishnoi community lauded the chief minister’s endeavour to inculcate a spirit to keep our environment clean, green and pollution free. The delegation said that their community would be ever indebted to Badal for this benevolent gesture for making concerted efforts to transform their long cherished dream into a reality. Responding to their another demand, the chief minister asked the financial commissioner, forests &amp; wildlife, to include requisite representatives from the Bishnoi community on the State Board for Wildlife as non-official members. </p> Arts PTI Wed, 29 Jun 2016 00:00:00 +0530 509894 at Visual Art of yoga <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 430px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/shiva-natraj-sculpture-177"><img src="" alt="A Shiva Natraj sculpture" title="A Shiva Natraj sculpture" class="image image-content_image " width="430" height="645" /></a><p class="caption">A Shiva Natraj sculpture</p></div> </div><p>Millions worldwide practice yoga daily, but few are aware of its origins and relative importance to Indian culture and identity. Although its history is long and complex, yoga reflects the rich philosophical and cultural currents that traversed the Indian subcontinent over thousands of years. An exhibition titled ‘Yoga in Indian Visual Art’ presents 150 works that illuminate and frame the history of yoga through art, and its evolution over thousands of years.</p> <p>“We have tried to present a pictorial story on yoga as a vigorous cultural force across a varied and divergent social landscape around the world and how the discipline has become a global phenomenon. These works are presently displayed at various foreign museums,” shares the curator of the show Virender Bangroo and adds, “The artworks reflects the rich philosophical and cultural currents that passed through the Indian subcontinent over thousands of years in the form of sculpture, paintings, scrolls, illustrated manuscripts and books that explain the key aspects of yoga from micro to macro level.”</p> <p>The show explores yoga’s goals and means of transforming body and consciousness and its profound philosophy and spiritual commitments. He explains, “Yoga is a medium to rise above the visual world and to dive deep into the spiritual experience, the latter being a source of ultimate and eternal pleasure. It has embraced a variety of practices and orientations, borrowing from and influencing a vast array of Indic religious traditions down the centuries.”</p> <p>In its three thematic sections under jnana, dhayana and karma, the exhibition takes a deep look at how India in tradition has evolved over the centuries and how historical and classical art continues to impact creativity. “The objective of yoga is to achieve the union with the ‘Supreme Soul’, in other words, to achieve salvation. Through knowledge, meditation and action one could attain the same. In jnana method, the mind has the ultimate objective, i.e., liberation that finally leads to all attainments. In the Dhyanayoga chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita, Bhisma outlines to Yudhisthira the fourfold yoga of meditation (dhyanayogam caturvidham), where one should collect all the senses, fix the mind on a single point and sit like a log of wood and, after passing through further stages of meditation (vitarka, vichara and viveka) and finally withdrawing the senses through concentration, one becomes completely tranquil and gains nirvana. Finally, Kriyayoga or karmayoga where the soul is in the process of several rebirt<br /> hs and due to acquiring vices, which are not natural to its original being, gets depleted. It is through good deeds and actions, including purity of thought that it can again regain its original virtues.”</p> <p>He continues, “Every religion teaches the right way of life. In this exhibition with the help of the images of ancient sculpture, we try to trace the history of yoga and the significance of each posture. For example, one of the works displayed is a Chola period bronze sculpture of Lord Narasimha meditating with a yoga paatta (strap), and ten folios from the first illustrated treatises of yoga posture outline the path of yoga.” </p> <p>On a wall of the final room, a collection of coloured drawings of the different positions practiced by yogis with explanatory direction in Bra- bhasha verses is displayed. Talking about the works Virender says, “These works are from the Library of Rani of Jhansi after the British army took over her province in 1858. Showcasing the significant role yoga played during that time and age too.”</p> <p>This show is a visual representation of Indian sculptures and painting that showcases yoga posture.</p> <p>The exhibition opened the windows to enlighten and emphasise yoga’s crucial position in the Hindu religious psyche as well as its presence in Jain and Buddhist traditions. “,” he points out.</p> Arts geetha jayaraman Fri, 24 Jun 2016 00:00:00 +0530 508178 at In search of fate <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 430px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/scenes-play-apne-apne-bhagya-915"><img src="" alt="Scenes from the play Apne Apne Bhagya" title="Scenes from the play Apne Apne Bhagya" class="image image-content_image " width="430" height="287" /></a><p class="caption">Scenes from the play Apne Apne Bhagya</p></div> </div><p>The play Mukti Prasang, as the director rightly pointed out, could have an alternative title — Congress House — as most of the proceedings of the play occur in the Congress House. The solo performance by Nawab Shah with the help of Priyanka as a procurer of properties and Hriday Desai as a singer and sutradhar is an intense show based on the poetry of Rajkamal Chowdhary. Through his poems, Nawab takes us through Rajkamal’s tumultuous inner life and his physical life with a touch of irony. </p> <p>The imagery in the poem is very complex and does not lend itself to easy visualisation. He talks about everything under the sun, from love to hate, to insult to praise and he describes the scenario as he goes around. Rajkamal Chowdhary led a very hectic life and died very young. He was an iconoclast being, destroying almost everything that was expected by the cultured class in his times. He had a free mind and concocted his own rules of living. </p> <p>Nawab Shah who has made his home in Bollywood was reasonably good in his interpretation of Rajkamal Chowdhary. He tended to be very stiff occasionally. But he has a low-timbered voice which is very powerful. The interaction of the director at two points in the play made the play interesting. One was when he came up with the story of Congress House and secondly, when he came up on stage to interrupt a scene where Nawab and Priyanka were going over the top. Priyanka is a delightful actor who performed with spontaneity and energy. </p> <p>However the mainstay of the production was Hriday Desai, who with his beautiful voice, whether singing classical or filmy tunes, was a class apart. And to this despite that he has just recovered from an accident. </p> <p>The play was well directed by Suchit. The play was staged at The Habitat Centre as part of their Old-World Cultural Organization. The play was presented by V.K. Sharma as a conclusion of the children’s theatre workshop held at The Habitat Centre. </p> <p>The play Apne Apne Bhagya is borrowed from the rich folklore of Kazakhstan. V.K. and his wife Kiran Deep have excelled in children’s theatre in the past and this was no exception. Children of the 6, 8, 12 and 14 were on stage to enact the story of a young man who leaves his village in order to pursue his fate. There were two actors playing this role. The second actor’s performance was impressive. The play readily takes on the Indian ethos and one doesn’t realise that it is a foreign story. The villagers and their children resemble the villagers of India and this man taking it into his heart to go to look for his fate is a common phenomenon in India also, with people wanting to travel away from their homes in search of a better future. This man also gets enough money to return to his village having made it good while he was away from home. In fact, he wins a kingdom to call his own. </p> <p>The children were very confident and good in their performances except for the singing, which was weak, thanks largely to the piano player who was not decisive about his playing. </p> <p>The tunes were pleasing by themselves but did not go down as well with the children. The costumes were well thought of and the lights were good. Generally, the play was of good standard as expected of V.K. and Kiran of Khilona.</p> Arts Kavita Nagpal Fri, 24 Jun 2016 00:00:00 +0530 507832 at Why trained administrators are vital for arts to flourish <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 430px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/niladri-paul-acrylic-canvas-469"><img src="" alt="Niladri Paul — acrylic on canvas" title="Niladri Paul — acrylic on canvas" class="image image-content_image " width="430" height="440" /></a><p class="caption">Niladri Paul — acrylic on canvas</p></div> </div><p>There is a fast disappearing art form of storytelling in Rajasthan that has a large painted canvas called a phad in the local dialect with folk paintings, almost like a stylised cartoon strip that recounts the tales of specific kings or stories from mythology. The storyteller — or Bhopa as he is called — lights up the section he is talking about with a lit mashaal. The Bhopa is a one-person army who dances, enacts theatre, sings, plays an instrument and tells the story. </p> <p>I often think of myself as the proverbial Bhopa of Indian arts wherein I hold up the mashaal to light up areas of the arts in the hope that there will be one person in the audience who will understand what I am saying and will carry forward my message to help change matters for the better. My phad is my writing — be it this column or other writing for journals, my sporadic audio-visual presence and my books. I leave no opportunity to propound the message of the Indian arts and artistes across the board with an almost crusader’s zeal. How much it had helped, I frankly don’t know, but I award myself full marks for trying!</p> <p>In this lean season when arts take some sort of a backseat to emerge after the rains — awash with new ideas and renewed with energetic fervour — I find is the time to introspect as what ails the arts. In one such moment when I was taking a mental chakkar of the various arts, I feel the major problem that has remained unchanged in the last 30 years is the lack of trained management cadre to manage the arts. </p> <p>There are institutions galore, governmental, semi-governmental, autonomous, private, performers and artists who set up small institutions with governmental grants or lands et al, who all reel under untrained personnel and are able to do only as much as they can in a private capacity. When there are controversies, the government takes the easy way out by handing the institutions over to ‘artists or artistes’ as the case may be to temporarily placate ruffled feathers. </p> <p>I feel if there were trained personnel, the institutions — both public and private — could really take the arts forward in a big way, make a global presence, make the arts self-sufficient, access the schemes floated by the government, tap into the funds allocated under CSR initiatives in public sector undertakings, create synergy with similar institutions in other parts of the world, leave the performers and artists/artistes free to create so that they are not pushed into creating for rozi-roti. </p> <p>These trained administrators could help streamline the institutions and maybe hold charge of several small institutions. It could be made mandatory for all institutions that access public money to appoint one such person whose salary could even be paid partly by the government. I feel this will go a long way in preserving the arts by making them self-sufficient. Of course, a bigger outlay for the ministry of culture would help too.</p> <p>The reason I don’t run down the government — any government for that matter, is because but for them, many more of our arts would have died. It is thanks to welfare schemes and patronage, however small, many arts and performers have survived. The transparency that has come thanks to the internet has helped a lot. However, much more still needs to be done to better organise the arts sector.</p> <p>In the contemporary arts sector, avenues need to be opened so that advertising and school teaching are not the only options for an artist for dal-roti. My heart bleeds when I see really good artists opting for school jobs — not because I don’t think they are important jobs but it is my conviction that it ruins their own idiom, makes their work over-simplistic, they end up reaching out to the lowest common denominator. Many artists keep trying to valiantly practice their own work, but the truth is it just doesn’t work. However, only those who have a calling to teach should teach. </p> <p>Buying by institutions like the National Gallery of Modern Art and Lalit Kala Akademi must be re-opened and instead of attempting to match market prices, there should be a system of grading artists like singers and dancers a la All India Radio and Doordarshan. National coffers of art should be filled up thus to make our collections invaluable. Artists too should support such ventures, for it should be a matter of pride to have your work as part of national institutions. And it will help in pricing outside as well, for it will re-repose the faith of both buyers and collectors and neither will feel cheated. This slump in the arts has largely taken place thanks to arbitrary pricing by galleries and artists with no water marks as reference points. </p> <p>New public buildings, which have to now follow the rule of two per cent for acquiring art works of the total cost of the building is one of the best ideas, but this percentage can be increased to make it viable for the artists to sell to institutions at a logical price and not necessarily market price. While I am happy that Subodh Gupta got `2.50 crore for his public art project, I would have been happier if three slightly not-so-well-known artists could have populated three spaces with their art. Not for a minute am I propounding compromising quality, but a relatively equitable distribution goes a long way in making arts self-sufficient. </p> <p>The Bhopa recounts the story, but is anyone out there listening? Ministry of culture mandarins? Minister of culture? The Prime Minister’s Office?</p> <p><strong>Dr Alka Raghuvanshi</strong> is an art writer, curator and artist and can be contacted on <a href=""></a></p> Arts Alka Raghuvanshi Thu, 23 Jun 2016 00:00:00 +0530 507470 at Sale of tribal shield halted; what’s next? <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 430px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/protestor-holds-leaflet-reading-stop-cultural-genocide-eve-auction-house-must-stop-photo-ap-467"><img src="" alt="A protestor holds a leaflet reading “Stop cultural genocide, Eve auction house must stop” (Photo: AP)" title="A protestor holds a leaflet reading “Stop cultural genocide, Eve auction house must stop” (Photo: AP)" class="image image-content_image " width="430" height="287" /></a><p class="caption">A protestor holds a leaflet reading “Stop cultural genocide, Eve auction house must stop” (Photo: AP)</p></div> </div><p>The laws of a rural New Mexico Native American tribe require that the ceremonial shield stay within the boundaries of its reservation, which covers miles of mountains and rolling desert. And for generations, the sacred object did just that, remaining safely in a home atop a mesa.</p> <p>So when a photo of the colorful shield recently emerged on a Paris auction house’s website, Acoma Pueblo leaders moved to halt its sale. A legal challenge in the French courts ensued, followed by an emotional public appeal from the pueblo’s governor and an affidavit alleging the shield disappeared after a break-in.</p> <p>Top US officials also called for French authorities to intervene. What came next was a rare announcement last month by Paris’ EVE auction house that the item was being withdrawn from bidding on the day it was to be sold, with the only explanation that it was being held pending further examination.</p> <p>“I do know the French government looked closely at the issue and did the right thing in pulling the shield from the auction,” said Larry Roberts, who oversees the US Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs and joined in pushing for the sale to be blocked. “I think France is to be congratulated for that.”</p> <p>But as tribes and their advocates hail the shield’s suspended auction and await a final ruling on whether it will be returned to Acoma Pueblo, some collectors fear the move — along with pending investigations on both sides of the Atlantic — will send a chill through the tribal artifacts market.</p> <p>In New Mexico, federal authorities, including the FBI, say they are looking into how the shield came on the market. However, a US attorney spokeswoman has declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.</p> <p>Meanwhile, French authorities have asked Acoma Pueblo to produce more documents, including another affidavit, for their review, said Kurt Riley, the pueblo’s governor.</p> <p>“When these items do go, we don't really know when, where, how it all occurred, and all of the sudden they're popping up overseas,” Riley said. “We’re in the dark as well. But we do know it never should have left the bounds of the reservation, and so once it's gone, we know it's a violation of our traditional law.” Whether that violation of traditional law also means the person who bought and sent the shield to France broke U.S. law, too, is at the centre of much of the debate now surrounding the shield.</p> <p>Without answers, the Native American artifacts market could seem like a “dicier and dicier” place to do business, said Robert Gallegos, a former president of the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association.</p> <p>French dealers at EVE, Drouot and other Paris auction houses for years have stood their ground against similar high-profile protests, refusing to halt sales and saying doing so could have repercussions for the art market in general.</p> <p>They have maintained all the objects — including war shirts and mask-like pieces the Hopi say are the physical embodiment of their ancestors — were acquired and sold legally under French and US laws. But that’s something many of the tribes dispute. </p> Arts AP Mary Hudetz Thu, 23 Jun 2016 00:00:00 +0530 507468 at Chronicles of a monk <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 430px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/artjpg-357"><img src="" alt="art.jpg" title="art.jpg" class="image image-content_image " width="430" height="287" /></a></div> </div><p>Buddhism that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on teachings attributed to the Buddha is practiced by an enormous section of the world population. Its popularity is attributed to several monks, scholars, rulers and empires all of whom devotedly spearheaded the dissemination of Buddha’s teachings through-out history. Delving deep into the history of one such great strategic Buddhist scholar and seer, Dr Shashi Bala exhibits the life of Kumarajiva at an ongoing photo exhibition titled “The life and legacy of Kumarajiva” at India International Centre. He was famed for his encyclopedic knowledge of Indian and Vedantic learning and was also recognised as one of the chief translators of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Chinese. It was owing to his efforts and influence that Buddhist philosophical ideas were disseminated in China. </p> <p>“Isn’t it so interesting to discover that a half-Indian, half-Chinese Prince-turned-monk-scholar devoted his entire life to uplift and awaken humankind?” puts forth Dr Shashi Bala as she sits down to unveil her vast collection of scriptures, chant sutras translated by him, images of murals from ancient caves, sacred objects and manuscripts. Guiding you through the exhibition, one photo at a time, Dr Bala who is a Buddhist scholar explains, “Kumarajiva, a son of a Kashmiri Brahmin and a Chinese princess was one of the eminent scholars of 5th century who broke political, geographical, cultural and linguistic barriers with a long cherished mission: propagation of the true spirit of Buddhism. His penetrating intelligence, philosophical and spiritual training also made him earn the title of ‘Teacher of the Nation’ (rajaguru). He presided over a team of Chinese specialists before an audience of hundreds of monks. Within a few years he translated 54 texts from Sanskrit to Chinese in about 300 volumes. He is also one of the greatest examples of the four noble truths comprising the essence of Buddha’s teachings: the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering.” </p> <p>Interrupt her to understand her mission behind the exhibition and she politely smiles, “I want young children and their malleable minds to be enlightened and ignited with the understanding of history: our history, our roots. You can teach them science, engage them in technology and introduce them to art but you need to go back to the spiritual roots to help them to be better human beings from inside out. We have to teach our children to walk the spiritual path. Spirituality teaches you morality and morality teaches you self-discipline. Ancient scriptures are like the Milky Way, yet to be explored and tapped into. I want children to study more than just the Mughal Empire and I wish that someday our textbooks will be filled with stories of our glorious past.” She shares, “India has contributed a great deal to the world’s history but sadly Indians themselves are not aware of it. This is primarily because modern historians who have written the history of India have only taken the Mughal and British chronicle as their base or foundation. Unfortunately they didn’t touch upon the historical documentations of South-east Asia where Hinduism and Buddhism, their scripts, epics and teachings have prevailed and helped monasteries grow. I just tried to show a glimpse of that through this exhibition — how Indian culture survives and how we share a common bond with so many other nations.” </p> Arts dipti Sun, 19 Jun 2016 00:00:00 +0530 506358 at Discourse on Canvas <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 430px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/work-manojit-samanta-717"><img src=" SAMANTA_0.jpg" alt="Work by Manojit Samanta" title="Work by Manojit Samanta" class="image image-content_image " width="430" height="287" /></a><p class="caption">Work by Manojit Samanta</p></div> </div><p>“Where do I owe my allegiance when I am not wanted even in my nation.” This statement pops out of the illustration-style wall art created by artist Johnson Kshetrimayum as you enter Khoj Studios. The artwork, created in a comic-book style, delves into his own personal history of being racially abused and beaten in Baroda while pursuing his Bachelor’s degree. The work is supported by a video of him going around the Khirkee area, creating graffiti art signifying the discrimination people from the Northeast face in their daily life.</p> <p>In the four-day long exhibition titled ‘Peers 2016’ at Khoj, Johnson and four other artists talk about racial discrimination, migration, safety and feminism in a unique and interactive way. Talking about the show, curator Promona Sengupta says, “‘Peers’ has been one of Khoj’s pioneering programmes, and this year is the 13th edition of ‘Peers’. It is a unique residency model, closely curated for recent graduates and young artists starting their professional careers. For this show, the artists have chosen Khirkee as a subject intertwined with certain societal norms. The beauty of the works lies in the fact that none of them question or critique society, they are simply stating facts and trying to understand where they stand.”</p> <p>Hailing from a conservative family, 25-year-old Anuradha Upadhyay draws the viewers’ attention to the uncomfortable and disturbing male gaze that women are subjected to in their day-to-day lives. “Anuradha’s work appears to draw constant references to the socio-political dynamics of the contemporary times while deeply engaging with her own subjectivity as a woman within the society. She has painted mask-like faces on small sculptural objects that are displayed as part of her other drawings and writings,” explains Promona.</p> <p>She continues, “Anuradha sees Khirkee as a venue of many possibilities; a multi-cultural place full of expressions. What also interests her is how different communities are perceived.”</p> <p>Artist Smita Rajmane takes the metaphorical route to talk about several incidents that took the country by storm in recent times. She maps the distance between the mosque in the area with various landmarks around it emphasising on the boundaries we have in family and in society equally. “Her work is very fascinating — in a very simplistic manner she talks about the boundaries we are expected to live within, in society. For her artwork, she took images of the mosque and its surroundings, and later carved out elements for her second frame, thus voicing out her opinion on the overall picture and asking who creates boundaries in society. She also showcases the contrasting lives of people — on one side of the mosque area, there are more landowners, while the rest of Khirkee is either slum area or the glitzy malls,” shares the curator. </p> <p>Talking about the life of a clustered urban dweller is artist Manojit Samanta. For this exhibition he is showcasing a three-dimensional jigsaw-like puzzle of cardboard cutouts that depict the chaotic, unruly life of Khirkee Extension. Capturing the aspect of area being highly disaster-prone is Arijit Bhattacharyya with his woman superhero. “Arijit mostly works with a concept of creating art that is functional. In the past he has created design solutions for people living in temporary shelters. In this exhibition, he has created a leatherite bag that can be transformed into a superhero rubber suit. This superhero is a Muslim woman who protects the people against fire. In a photographic series, he also showcases the woman clad in her superhero suit living happily with her family,” concludes Promona. </p> Arts geetha jayaraman Fri, 17 Jun 2016 00:00:00 +0530 505716 at Prepare to tumble for Cirque’s ‘Paramour’ <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 430px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/ruby-lewis-photo-ap-531"><img src=" 2.jpg" alt="Ruby Lewis. (Photo: AP)" title="Ruby Lewis. (Photo: AP)" class="image image-content_image " width="430" height="325" /></a><p class="caption">Ruby Lewis. (Photo: AP)</p></div> </div><p>The first signal you get that Paramour is no ordinary Broadway show is the size of the plzaybill. It’s a monster, easily dwarfing the regular booklets you get handed at every other theater.</p> <p>That makes sense. Paramour wants to be different, outsized and brash. It’s the first Cirque du Soleil show created specifically for Broadway, harnessing its muscular gravity-avoiding acrobats to musical theatre.</p> <p>The result, which opened Wednesday at the Lyric Theatre, is sometimes overstuffed and awkward but always finds its footing when it highlights its soaring, rubber-bodied stars.</p> <p>Paramour, which includes classic Cirque touches like aerial acts, board jumping and acrobats on teeterboards, has chosen — somewhat puzzlingly for Cirque’s maiden voyage to Broadway — to celebrate classic Hollywood.</p> <p>But unlike other Cirque shows, this one does a really fine job of integrating the acrobats into the narrative. Here, pole acrobats show off their stuff on city lamp posts, tumblers explode during a bar brawl and trampoline specialists flip high over rooftops. It’s thrilling stuff.</p> <p>The story is a love triangle that pits a famous movie director (Jeremy Kushnier, a bully of a man who veers into King Lear), a ravishing young actress (a ravis