India, a country steeped in many traditions is not well known for its video
and new media art. Yet as curator Johan Pijnappel has found, there are a
growing number of artists using video as a way of negotiating issues
surrounding their relationship to tradition, globilisation and ever changing
facets of contemporary life. In the current political climate of India and
the looming threat of war these videos serve as a timely tool to explore the
mindset of contemporary Indian artists.
Pijnappel states, " Their search is a fundamental self – questioning. How to
live with traditional cultural values? How to liberate yourself as a woman?
How to face ongoing ethnic problems? How to position yourself? Theirs is a
search for a new Avatar, of positioning a new self."
Seven artists have been chosen to represent India in this exhibition.
Surekha’s "Juhannes / Midsummer", explores in a sense cross-cultural nudity
in private and in public. Three female artists from Brazil, Poland and India
whilst doing a residency in Finland gain further understanding of their
cultural differences in a public bathroom and a private sauna.
Tejal Shahs piece "Chingari Chumma" (Stinging Kiss) delves into the desire
that popular Bollywood movies do not address. Turning the usual Bollywood
story on its head it is the woman’s desire that is the star of this film.
Shilpa Guptas work "Untitled" consists of two t.v's facing each other. On
each of these TVs are one of seven characters portrayed by the artist
sitting, watching the opposite TV. This serves to almost bypass the need for
an audience, this work stemming from the Indian soapies that allow the
viewers to vicariously live through them.
Suboth Gupta has produced a work entitled "Pure", which is about belief and
ritual. By cleansing themselves in cow dung, (a contradictory practice), a
sense of atonement is achieved through the cows sacred nature.
Subba Ghoshs’ work "Remains of a Breath" deals with death, burial,
exhumation and waste. A body in this video is continuously covered in
‘waste’ and whether that be in flowers, ash it serves to remind us that what
is gone or discarded is always used.
Sonia Khurana’s work "Bird", explores the nature of self. A body in motion
is captured through a hand held camera capturing these fluid bird like
Umesh Maddanahali’s work "Between Myth and History" explore nature versus
man made as a metaphor for moving between cultures.
Johan Pijnappel has had a distinguished career as curator of the World Wide
Video festival and is an advocate for Video artists and art.
Still from Remains of a Breath