Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why BMB Gallery? Bose Speaks

In a candid conversation with JohnyML, noted artist, curator and now gallery director, Bose Krishnamachari clears so many clouds gathered around his new found entrepreneurship. He likes to get provoked and he fields each question with the skill of a footballer. No doubt that he wants to create a feel of European Football or IPL Cricket in Indian contemporary art scene.

JohnyML: Bose, many, including myself thought before the establishment of BMB Gallery, we could witness the birth of Contemporary Art Museum in Aluva, Kerala. What’s the future of it? I am concerned because in your ‘Ghost’ show in Aicon Gallery, London (2008), you presented a ‘model’ of/for ‘a’ museum. Will it remain as a ‘model’, the way the ‘Delhi Biennale’ is a virtual discursive platform for all futuristic Biennales? I am seriously concerned as I found a participatory dream museum project by Asia Art Archives at the India Art Summit (2009). Would a real museum be pre-empted by a discourse on virtual museums?

Bose Krishnamachari: I do dream a lot but do not dream about dreams! 'Making' is more creative than just dreaming about ideas. 'GHOST' was a project and the museum modal was a 'FAKE' ! I would like to provoke or instigate the vision less rich and the state, my project will happen slowly.....! Now my project is a mobile museum, it will travel like giant sculpture on the roads, LaVA {laboratory of Visual Arts].

JML: Let me ask you some basic questions. What does BMB stand for?

BK: ‘Bombay Mumbai and Bambaiya’. It can be read as Birla [Yash+ Avanti
Birla] Mehta [Devaunshi+Dia Mehta] and Bose Krishnamachari.

JML: That’s nice. Probably, the art scene knows who all these people are. Still I would like you to tell me what do Yash Birla and Devaunshi Mehta do otherwise, I mean when they are not the Gallery Directors?

BK: They live life in complete form I guess, business, ha... ha...

JML: ‘Maverick’ is a qualifier used by many writers to showcase your ‘name’. How much a maverick are you in this B-M-B combination? What’s your role in this? I understand that you like hyphenated expressions, as in ‘Double-Enders’. Hyphens show distinctiveness as well as a fluid commitment.

BK: Director and artistic director. A sort of amoeba, vision or is a micro- molecule, BMB is going to be a fluid project space. Like an amoeba, BMB will become multiplied by many BMBeeees'. Educating myself and others about contemporary global art, we like to bring together best Indian and International players [just like European foot ball or like our IPL], we like to pass on the ball to others.....Catch it!

JML: Well…I am good at catching/capturing sound bytes even when they are not addressed to me. Recently I overheard a couple of gallerists talking: ‘okay…now let him (Bose) face what we have been facing’. I could make out the meaning of it. You have been an artist-curator all these days. Now you are a gallerist too. How are you going to do this great balancing act? Perhaps, for you it is not a balancing act at all as you have openly stated that ‘art is money’.

BK: I love conflict, I love contradictions. I love opposites.... it is simple as that opposite attracts. We live within, hedonism and low life co exist and I enjoy and live within ambivalence. I know the game in complete form and like to be a professional player. My strong belief is that we are no more local, we are global and global players in every sense.

I believe you have a different model for BMB Gallery. For example, you have invited Shaheen Merali to curate a show with artists from different countries. Perhaps in India, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai started bringing international artists in curated shows without this definitive tag of ‘South East Asian Art’. You seem to be taking it to a different level. For me it is like producing the ‘international’ within the ‘national’ discourse of art. Could you please elaborate?

BK: BMB policy is to bring together the Self and the Other. It is difficult to bring a museum quality project to India. One of the most important reasons is that our import export duty of art is so high; if we are exporting an art work to UK is only 5% of the value of an art work and for the same stuff, import tax in India is 20%. If we want to bring or send a show, it is so difficult in India. If I am successful in any field then it is simple as that I worked passionately, diligently and above all love. LOVE is my mantra to face obstacles. Live life king size!

JML: I am curious to know about your role in BMB not as one of the three ‘directors’ but as the ‘curator-director’. Will you be curating shows for BMB?

BK: Yes, I will be programming shows and also finding new ways of bringing projects and others together.

JML: Another interesting thought coming to my mind is that of your participation as an ‘artist’ in the shows held by BMB Gallery. Will you apply some kind of self censorship, when it comes to your participation in the shows?

BK: Fluid policy, an open policy.

Artists are increasingly becoming aware of the role of money in their private and public life. What kind of business model you have in hand (that may be a secret now!) to keep the price of art up as done by Bodhi in the previous years?

BK: Comparison means reading anything in approximations and generalities. It is a wrong way of seeing life. I am interested in seeing confidence in artists, curators and collectors. BMB, book shop and cafeteria will become a cultural educational Adda!

JML: It is a welcoming change that you are bringing international curators and international artists to Indian scene. Do you think that you have developed a client network within India to collect this international art? Do you think that Indian clients are confident enough to buy these international artists’ works? For example, there are at least five international collectors for Indian contemporary art. Do we have ‘Indian’ counterparts? I am aware of the fact that works of art find their own trajectory once they are released from the studios (I am here referring to a comment once made by Jitish Kallat) and they would transcend the geographical boundaries. So it is almost immaterial to ask whether the collector is India specific or not. Still my question remains….

BK: BMB is showing quality works to the public. It is important to think that why BMB is showing Indian and International artists or curators together. Our/we collectors have to open up more and be with the 'Unfamiliar'. Unfamiliar means new and that awareness of the NEW itself is new art in life. We are normally interested in Mimicry Art, I mean the familiar. Inventions end by making clones! A good model could be Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia, accept the other as they are. Let us remove borders and erase passports and Visa!

JML: After ‘Relative VisA’ in Bodhi, Mumbai (2009), you had stated that you would be curating a large scale show for Bodhi every year. Does the offer still stand? Will you be curating shows for other galleries in India and abroad? Will it affect the interests of your own establishment?

BK: Bodhi has given me an opportunity and offer to curate shows every year (many other galleries also asked me to curate, I think they trust me and they believe in my projects). Dear Johny, nothing is permanent in this world, everything transforms in to something else [read my belief in Amuseum show catalogue-92], myself too and you too....

JML: Though I don’t have concrete evidences to substantiate what I am going to ask, I would prefer to ask this question; some people say that it is one of the boldest moves you have ever taken and some others say that it could be a personal folly (starting a gallery). How do you take these observations?

BK: Experience and expressions are varied. I was not aware that I would become an artist, studio maker, curator, collector or gallerist or become museologist. DESTINY and good doings, as I mentioned earlier that I wanted to become a doctor, ha... then falling into coma and hospital- life etc. Coming to Bombay and becoming a Mumbaikar. If I was born in UK, things would have been different then. DESTINY!

JML: Some thing personal here as a digression: You are forty seven now. People find it very interesting to see you do so many things at the same time. What is the secret of your energy? Do you drink Boost everyday?

BK: LOVE, be like a mirror, be like a port, then Columbus and Vascoda Gama's can have fun. Be with lots of optimistic people and young boys and girls.... ha...

The other day I got up very early in the morning, around 3 O’ clock and I was thinking about the works of Roy Lichtenstein and BMB Gallery. It was a sort of half dream, half awaken sort of thought. Lichtenstein’s works are popular, populist, post modern and provocative in a familiar way. ‘BMB’ has some strange connection with these Ps. BMB is popular (before it is on), populist (as it aims at a larger public), post modern (as it pecks and hinges on the familiar but emphasis on the difference), provocative (of course because of your directorship). Am I getting too dream driven in this observation?

Make, Maker and Marker and I am a worker and Riyas Komu calls me by the name ‘Workyeeee...’. (Punning on the words Work and Varkey, a Christian name in Malayalam, which is a derivative of Verghese-jml). As I mentioned before I do not read dreams for creative practice but others are welcome to dream and read dreams. Anyways we are not Freudians, you know. BMB would like ‘CP’s than just ‘P’s- I mean, Conceptual Pop, Contemporary Pop, Critically Populist, Creative Programmer and Project Maker. Lichtenstein ki JAI HO!

JML: All the best for BMB Gallery. Thank you for sparing time to answer my queries.

Welcome to be with Art, BMB.

(photographs by Shankar Natrajan)

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