Sunday, January 30, 2011

Applied Fiction: Fiction Applied- A Must See Show

Soren Pors and Aparna Rao met at the Interactive Design Institute Ivrea, Italy in 2002. It was electro-mechanics at first sight. In 2004, they started working together. And ‘Applied Fiction’ is the result of their combined creative efforts and now it is in the form of a solo show at the Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi.

They are known as Pors and Rao. It could be Rao and Pors, for hardcore feminists. Seen from whichever angle, this duo excels many other duos in the contemporary art scene thanks to their sheer understanding of form, fiction and mechanics. Consider all those conceptual, experimental and interactive works happening around, most of them fail to function thanks to the heavy loads of intellectualism placed on those tender motors. When you see Applied Fiction, you will forget all those burdens and you smile because you connect with the works in different levels; physically, intellectually and above all emotionally.

(Applied Fiction, installation view at Vadehra)

As an art critic, I don’t have any qualification to understand mechanics. But I can differentiate between mechanics applied for the sake of mechanics and mechanics applied for creating a fiction. Applied Fiction is mechanics applied to all those fictions that we have come across during our life time, especially during our childhood. When childhood experiences are converted into a art with a heightened sensibility and sensitivity, that becomes capable enough to transcend the spiritual level of the human beings, if not the basic physical pleasures.

Applied Fiction, as I understand is all about applied fiction. Is there any problem in that? Here material and mechanics are brought into a single unit so that the artists could speak to the audience through them. We grow up listening to various stories, reading several of them and seeing various types of mechanics developing around us. We are at once attached and detached to such mechanics and stories. When they are brought together, that particular moment of unity becomes a moment of revelation. Pors and Rao help us as viewers to understand the simple dynamics of the world of fiction and mechanics through images, objects, words and puns.


‘Decoy’ reminds you of the Vodafone zoo zoos. It is a rounded object with two hands and a pipette-like head. There are no hagiographic suggestions to make us think that it represents a cartoonish human form. Despite this no-emphasis on human form, when it moves as you cross the sensor, you feel a lot of love for that object. The very animation of the object makes it quite humane and a sort of love that we feel for children fills in our mind and in the process we become children. And with no verbal suggestions, we start playing with it thereby turning the work into a really interactive object.


This interactive quality is visible in all the other works in this solo at Vadehra. Take ‘Pygmies’ for example. There are eight rectangle and square frames on the wall that remind you of Malevich and Mondrian for no reason. But you forget all your art history the moment you move and accidentally stamp on the floor. The small black metal appendages with two white dots on them to suggest a face placed along the four sides of all these rectangles and squares just jump down as they hear the noise. Then they slowly come up as if to ogle at you. Then the play starts; you stamp on the floor, they hide behind the frames, then they come up and you play again. You almost forget that you are playing with a mechanical object.


Look at ‘Drifter’. This is a universal form of human body. Using simple lines you can make a man like this. In India such forms are once used to connote a ‘sahib’, which means a white ruler because white rulers used to wear hats. So it is a fiction for an Indian; if Soren does not know it, Arpana knows. As she knows it, both of them know it. Now we have this man, this sahib standing upside down and moving on his head, but he never falls down. Does that mean that the colonial imports and inputs are still around though they are inverted and drifted like this? I am reading too much into it but it gives me a lot of pleasure to see and read the Drifter like this.

(Sun Shadow)

Sun Shadow is another work that makes you smile. You feel so much love, sympathy and affection for that sun, who is otherwise fierce and eye-piercing. Here you see a clumsily made shadow of a sun fallen on the floor. The moment you come around it, it attempts to climb on the wall. It at once connotes the movement of the sun’s shadow/ movement of light from wall to floor and floor to wall and our childhood feeling for light and its movements. In fact there is a stronger inversion of logic in this pun-filled work. Sun does not cast its own shadow. However, when we see the Sun Shadow at Vadehra we think about sun’s shadow without questioning it even for a moment. The sun becomes an animated character, almost helpless and cute. The artists create a new linguistic structure in order to topple the existing ones; application of fiction over the logical realities.

(Teddy Universe)

‘Teddy Universe’ works on the basic concepts and images that the words evoke. Teddy is teddy bear and universe is universe. And when you look up, hanging from the ceiling is an enlarged black Teddy with small little pores all over his body. From inside this teddy form is lit up and you suddenly tend to see the teddy as sky and a constellation in itself. You think about various constellations and think of the bear forms in it. Pors and Rao tell us that it is important go back to that state of mind that a child carries when he lies on the lap of his mother and wistfully looks at the darkening sky at night and at his mother’s face lit up by the lamp.

(Split Knife)

Split Knife is rather a less attractive work in the whole show as we have seen similar works elsewhere. One end of a knife comes out of one pedestal and the other end goes in and the movement continues. This is an illusion created out of simple mechanics and the feeling of continuity of an object as we see two edges of it moving in a synchronized fashion, is something that the artists invest their energies on. Though it did not appeal me too much, as it is a part of the whole, one could still see this work with same wonderment.

Applied Fiction is about linguistics and fiction. It also speaks of fictitious linguistics and linguistic fiction. This says, it is not this, this is not it. But it is what it is and this is what this is. This this-ness of this and non-this-ness of this make this project interesting and appealing. And above all the works take you to a plane that all art aspire to take you; to pure bliss, Ananada.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Archiving Against All Odds: A Case study

Brain cells that store memories die, decay or collapse. Hard drives that store digital memories ‘crash’. Remembering and retrieving are the remedies to regain memories and hard drive storages. We no longer remember the phone numbers of our closest friends. External memories carry them for us. Memory/brain used to be an archive. Albums and scrap books used to do the same. Libraries carried vast amount of memories. But a library could be unpacked and re-installed elsewhere if it is not burnt down. Today, archive is dead and is reincarnated in the forms of digital storages. Archiving used to be a strategy to deflect the State’s wrath on citizens. Archiving used to be a way of the State to remember its own past.

(North Malabar Thiyya Marriage Videos and Pictures, a project by Janaki Abraham)

Today, archive is a part of our collective nostalgia. When curators attempt to showcase the idea of archives through the works of art, artists attempt to make new archives for re-living the idea of archives. For Marcel Proust, T.S.Eliot, Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin, archiving was a political act from the micro levels. For them archiving was not the production of a spectacle. Instead they collected their memories in codes. Encryption was necessity and strategy. But today artists in India, when asked to think about archiving, produce spectacles. Archiving has become a forced act; a collective act and a funded act. But anything that evokes certain nostalgic moments is to be appreciated. It could be the foot wears collected from different countries, it could be the digitizing a personal collection of catalogues or even it could be a make-shift spectacular library.

(A display from Janaki Abraham's project)

However, in such projects, the presence of contemporary ‘artists’ become more important than the actual idea behind curating. Janaki Abraham, who has extensively archived the VHS tapes of the marriage videos of a particular caste group in Northern Kerala, Abul Azad who has extensively photographed the artists, musicians and social activists in India, Ram Rahman who has registered the pivotal movements and moments of a ‘secular’ post-modern India are no longer seen in such archival projects. Instead, we see artists by fluke presenting their works. A documentary maker like Amar Kanwar is treated as an archiving artist. Raqs Media Collective, which actually is a research organization, is forced to make a ‘work of art’ than presenting its own archiving activities.

(Amar Kanwar- a Visual Artist by default)

(Archived by Market Success- Researchers turned artists- Raqs Media Collective)

When a curator thinks of doing a spectacular show, it happens. Abhishek Hazra, whose projects are often incoherent for those non-enlightened people like me, has done one project with the archives of a major Kolkatan Library. I remember it has something to do with the writings of the scientist Jagishchandra Bose and in a project where he could have been fit into, does not even consider him. Some curators force the artists into the concept and one could see the results in such shows.

(A still from History is a Silent Film by K.M.Madhusudhanan)

Against this context I would like to see one particular installation of Shankar Natarajan done in a show at BMB Gallery, Mumbai. This is installation of made of more than thousand photographs taken by the artist himself. A post graduate in art criticism and a self-trained photographer, Shankar Natarajan turned his creative energies towards documenting artists’ works for their shows. By 2006, with the art market boom, Shankar became one of the most sought after photographer in Mumbai who specialized in taking the photographs of the art works both in and out of display. Galleries started commissioning him to travel with the artists and shows all over the world to do the documentation.

(Shankar Natarajan's project at Gallery BMB, Mumbai)

When Shankar was invited to participate in show at the BMB Gallery, he decided to open up his archives from his hard disk. These thousand photographs show the works of most of the Indian contemporary artists and interestingly thanks to the proliferation of information technology and cataloguing most of the images are familiar to the diligent art viewers. However, when the photographer, claims these images as ‘his’ works, they assume the character of archival materials. According to the artist, it is a kind of revoking the memories; memories of a time and fervent activities of artist during this time. This work is also a way of externalizing a personal memory by negotiating images between their status as the result of visual registrations and as the residual of such registrations.

(Another view of Shankar Natarajan's project)

Shankar himself disputes the uniqueness of the component images in his installations because of these images are seen elsewhere in other formats. However, once conceptually mediated as an installation on a gallery wall, these memories/images achieve a sort of uniqueness, which is capable enough to debate the core issue of memory, artificial memory, storage devices, copyright and above all the personal attachment to the product and the waste/sub-product. Interestingly, in Shankar’s project, residual images play a pivotal role as he himself accepts that the number of pictures that made their way into the installation is many times less than the number of pictures that remain in his computer/hard disk.

(Installation view of Shankar Natarajan's Work)

The archival intensity of this installation becomes intense as the artist/critic/photographer/documenter/archivist himself feels that there these photographs together creates a different meaning by registering the peculiar qualities/aesthetic productions of a given time. “At a very basic level , by displaying over a 1000 photos I shifted the focus from individual images of artworks used by indivudals and institutions for a specific purpose to something like an overview of what was produced in a particular period : 2006-2010,” Shankar says.

(shankar Natarajan)

Unfortunately, the curators who devote their time to debate the issues of archiving go behind the usual suspects. I wonder how Amar Kanwar is treated as an artist and K.M.Madhusudhanan who has extensively worked with the history of photography and theatre (History is a Silent Film and Maya Bazar) is not. Ten years of research seems to have gone waste when it comes to curatorial practice.

Yes, all these while I was talking about ‘Against All Odds’ curated by Arshiya Lokhandwala at the Lalit Kala Akademy, New Delhi. This show has a sub-title: A Contemporary Response to the Historiography of Archiving, Collecting and Museums in India.’ I could not see anything about historiography in this show. Nor could I see anything on Museum debate.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Fall on the Bed of Humor and Weep

Oscar Wilde once said, when two women meet a third one’s character is assassinated.

I am going Wild here: When a woman gallerist curates a show, character of the artists whom she curates gets assassinated.

That’s what exactly happens in ‘Of Humor, Wit and Satire’ curated by Tunty Chauhan, director of the Threshold Gallery, New Delhi.

‘Of Humor, Wit and Satire’ sounds quite Baconian, right? Francis Bacon of the 16th century, not our painter Bacon.

Tunty Chauhan curates this show because she assumes that all these artists and works featured in this show could evoke laughter, if not sublime smile, amongst the audience. But the show as a whole fails to do so. Why? Let me explain.

Amit Ambalal, K.G.Subramanyan, Arpita Singh, Rabnbir Kaleka, Atul Dodiya, Bhupen Khakar, Manjunath Kamath, Dhurvi Acharya, N.S.Harsha, Dilip Ranade, Prithvipal Ladi and Ved Gupta are the featured artists.

(Oh Pankhi Pyare bole by Amit Ambalal)

Ambalal, K.G.Subramanyan and Arpita Singh do not belong to the humor category because they are existential in their approach. Their satire is built on irony and contradiction of realities. Grinning figures do not evoke laughter. Bhupen Khakar’s witticism comes from his satirical approach to the middle class values. Obviously, when it is a curated project, one need to strategically show why Bhupen Khakar or Amit Ambalal is there along with Dhruvi Acharya or Dilip Ranade or N.S.Harsha.

(Classified by Arpita Singh)

(Pranayam by K.G.Subramanyan)

Humor and satire are the two most refined entities of violence. You can spill blood by making someone blush, said Levinas. And this metaphorical blood is the result of the critique by humor. This show fails to spill this blood.

I have never seen humor or satire in N.S.Harsha’s works. Of late, exactly since the ‘Looking Glass’ show at Religare Arts, Harsha has been showing a sort of dark irony, which is more inclined to political critique than a personal approach towards in general, in his works. In Harsha’s works at the Threshold show too I am not able to find any humor or satire than a folk sense of phlegmatic irony resulting from the helplessness of the village folks.

(Gajar by N.S.Harsha)

Dhruvi Acharya is surrealistic than witty. Dilip Ranade makes the viewer smile for a moment, which only after a second gets translated into a frown. Interestingly, had these works been in some other show they would have been appreciated for their artistic worth.

(Work by Dhruvi Acharya)

(Work by Dilip Ranade)

Disparate images, when forced to share the same platform should evoke laughter as often in the case of Manjunath Kamath. He is successful in doing so even in this show. He creates a stack of utensils tied to each other and placed on a horse which has rollers under its hoofs. Nothing is stable there; there is an immanent sense of collapse there.

(Glocal Play by Manjunath Kamath)

But I don’t understand why Ranbir’s work is brought in as a humorous, witty and satirical piece? If that is the case, we can read Communist Manifesto and laugh our heart out. May be this is the time to do so. We have started taking our cheque books out when we hear the word ‘Culture and Art’. Ranbir’s work is a pretty serious take on art and art history. If Ladi’s sculptures could make me laugh, instead of feeling those shudders that they evoke along my spine as if I were witnessing an apocalyptical vision, I will give one edition of ‘Very Hungry God’ to Tunty as a gift.

(Lion and Milk Bowl by Ranbir Kaleka)

(Prized Catch by Prithvipal Singh Ladi)

Two works that really make you smile are ‘Anarkali and 72 Idiots’ by Atul Dodiya and ‘Laugh till We Die’ by Ved Gupta. In Anarkali….Atul selects seventy two portraits of Indian artists taken by Bose Krishnamachari and presented in his ‘De-curating’ show and interpolates them with moustaches, horns, dentures and so on. These 72 idiots (actually they are not) are ogling at Anarkali who sits in a different frame. Someone told me that it is Tunty Chauhan’s portrait. This work justifies the title of the show.

(Anarkali and 72 Idiots by Atul Dodiya)

Ved Gupta forces your lips part because you see the same stocky figures doing nothing but laughing. It is very difficult not to laugh when you see some one getting orgasmic heights of laughter. Same thing happens when artists with pedestrian ideas and pedestrian style appear before you in the garb of intellectuals.

(Laugh till We Die by Ved Gupta)

A few lessons for women (men too) gallerists who attempt to curate shows:

1) Curating is not just about presenting a set of works with a theme and a title.
2) Curator should come forward with a curatorial note and that should be guiding the viewer.
3) A decent display does not mean a well curated show. When an artist from history is presented along with young contemporaries, there should be a different display strategy so that they ‘physically’ engage between each other and produce new meanings within the gallery space.
4) Having said that, one should not over depend on an exhibition designer. Most of the designed/er shows are remembered for design only; artists and their works are not remembered.
5) Traveling across the world and attending a few art fairs do not give the authority to curate.
6) Even attending lectures at India Art Summit and waiting in queues to see the spectacular marathon interviews at Lodhi Garden also would not help to become a curator.
7) Never call a group show, a curated show. Leave group shows as group shows.
8) Scholars are also like gallerists. They fall for the charm of the time. For example, when Yasodhara Dalmia curated ‘Indian Subway’ for Vadehra Gallery, she arrayed Shibu Natesan to Sudhanshu Sutar in this show. In fact, it was just a group show with mid-career contemporaries and could have been organized by Bhooma Padmanabhan of FICA or Vidya Sivadas of Vadehra or even simple phone calls to artists by Roshini Vadehra. But when a curator is involved he/she should bring in a different expertise. Yasodhara Dalmia ‘lent’ her name to the show not her expertise.
9) Be humble and always tell yourself (at least when you look at mirror that I am sure you do ten times a day) that you don’t know much about ART though you know a lot about market and the wares that you deal with. Chanting it ten times a day will prevent many curatorial projects from taking shape.
10) Respect trained curators.

I like Tunty Chauhan as a person and she is a friend. So just before leaving the gallery I thought of plucking a feather out of Ambalal’s painting and tickling myself, only to do justice to my friend.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Flavored and Dotted Condoms: Take on Art Magazine 4

Sign – Take on Art Magazine issue 4

Signifier- The Oeuvre of the artists

Signified- I too am there with you

Signification- We are like that only.

Confused. Close your eyes. Then touch the cover page of the latest Take on Art Magazine. No, grope it with your finger tips. Now you got it. Yes, you touch Tukral and Tagra’s painting. It is wonderful to touch a painting with no security people around.

And touching a dotted condom is also very pleasurable; for both the parties. The image that you grope over is the image of a dotted condom with added pleasure of aesthetics. The cover page of the latest Take on Art Magazine has an embossed image from Tukral and Tagra’s famous ‘Put it On’ project.

And, Take on Art Magazine jointly edited by Bhavna Kakar and artist Sophie Ernst is a visual as well as cerebral treat. Go and grab it. Don’t grab the beautiful girls at the counter. Then the Magazine could turn out to be injurious to health. It is not good to have art, which is injurious to health.

As usual I read the magazine from back to front, a process that I enjoy very much. In a candid conversation between Sudarshan Shetty and Ina Puri, the artist tells the readers that he is a middle class man and remains to be one. Hence, he does not use intricate technology; but he does use them and make the viewer feel that they see some technology in it. Veeranganakumari Solanki chats up with Nalini Malani. When Malani speaks you get the meaning of her otherwise complicated works. I like when she says that in India Feminism is not a finished project though many young women artists think so.

In her Phantom Lady column Pushpamala writes about Donkeys in Indian art keeping Umesh Madanahalli’s collaborative performance with donkeys and art students as a referent. Very interesting reading. She may also read my blog posted on 3rd October 2008 in the following link where I write about ‘Donkeys in/and Indian Contemporary Art’:

Sunil Mehra rips off the Indian curatorial practice in his essay titled ‘Curator-Cure Thyself’. I want to add, ‘frailty thy name is curator’. Just joking. In my column I deal with ARTinficial Insemination Syndrom, which means the artists who heavily use assistants and keep the truth behind the curtains. Have a look.

Then comes the oeuvre section. T.V.Santhosh’s is like a Haiku poem; short and simple. Anoop Mathew Thomas’ is captivating with its series of visuals. Saranath Banerjee….I come from a land of great satirists. It is very difficult to make me laugh. Subodh Gupta, the usual stuff. Jitish Kallat, scholarly as ever. Dayanita Singh, haunted by Orhan Pamuk’s museum thoughts. Yes, I should mention Pors and Rao and Pooja Iranna.

Rashmi Kaleka seems to be getting her due finally. But I wonder why when she did her actual video work and exhibited in the Scratch show curated by Swapan Seth for Sakshi Gallery, she featured the hawkers’ ‘aawaaz’ (calls) along with the visuals from the Old Delhi. If I am wrong I will apologize to her personally. Why in New Delhi are there no hawkers? Was it an effort to make the video exotic?

Ranbir Kaleka is sophisticated in his words and deeds. The article by Lucien Harris on Tukral and Tagra is informative. In fact, after the IAS 3, I have started looking at their works with a new interest.

There is an interesting but ideological coalescing of scholarship and branding in the pages devoted for Riyas Komu. He is presented as the editor of a newspaper selectively published and discreetly circulated. In this Komu speaks of the people deprived of social facilities. But the article is written by Radhika Desai, a scholar in architecture and urbanology. The pages are designed in such a way that the piece almost sounds like written by the artist himself. I am not convinced of his newspaper because it is propagandist and it came along with a high society magazine called Platform. If Common Wealth Games and the corruption around it had triggered this artist’s love for the deprived people, I would demand him to expose the corruptions in the art scene, like Hans Haacke. Also, I would ask him to do a survey of the lands and properties bought by the artists during the boom time and after and enquire whether such deals have deprived any people of their dwelling spaces, shitting spaces and playing grounds. Let’s play. Political ambiguity of the artist cannot be covered with red coated signs and an article by Mani Shankar Aiyar.

We as cultural critics or art critics are too knowledgeable people. We cannot see anything with innocent eyes. Is that a problem? I don’t know. Anyway, when I look at Take on Art Magazine issue, I could see the editor’s eagerness to be with the latest and the trendiest. She wants to highlight the flavors of the season.

Anyway, as a magazine this edition of Take on Art is very successful. And I recommend the art professionals to go for it; if not for intellectual pleasure, at least for tasting the latest flavors.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Bit More from the Art Summit

Generally you don’t feel good when you stand in a queue. But here at Pragati Maidan, where the India Art Summit (IAS) is currently on you stand in a queue and you feel a lot good about it. Why so? You have heard of stories of queues before the European and American Museums where the works of great masters are exhibited. Now in Delhi you experience it. Long winding queues created by the enthusiastic art lovers from all over the world made today a different day for the IAS.

I should have taken photographs of these queues. But I was enjoying the feeling of being in a queue for art. “There should be more and more art fairs like this in India,” I told my friends later. They too have the same opinion. People queuing up to see art is a symptom of social change; for good. The government authorities should notice this and promote art in all the possible avenues.

Metro is doing that. Soon you will see contemporary works of art adorning the metro stations.

I like Atul Dodiya’s works in the Summit. They lampoon the very purpose of the Summit, but with sensitivity and sensibility. Dodiya uses small statements and popular and kitsch imageries to develop a dialogue between the viewer and the intended meaning of the work of art. ‘Those who have sinned in their previous birth go into art fairs’, ‘Lets go to Borivili to taste some Malayali grapes’ and so on are the statements that pep up Dodiya’s works.

And if fair is all about money and market, this work at the Lakeeren stall suffices this attitude. I don’t know who the artist is.

I clicked some very sensitive works by Shilpa Gupta and Juul Krajer.

Some interesting sculptural works by friends. Nantu Behari’s tooth pick sculpture; the jack fruit. Megha Joshi’s winged safety pins. Yogesh Mahida’s steel sculpture. Puneet’s steel wool work and Chitrovaanu Mazumdar's installation.

The best in the show could be ‘the Beautiful Game’ by Tukral and Tagra. Their foundation, the Foundation Tukral and Tagra, works towards spreading awareness about AIDS amongst the people, especially those young people who have time and source to be sexually aggressive and active. It is all about wearing condoms. You are supposed to play billiards game and if you win you get a pair of slippers with instructions on using condom printed graphically on it. The stall is covered by wall paper with flower prints. The comparison between billiards and sex is interesting; the foreplay, the intercourse and the orgasm. However, T&T does not talk about the existential detachment immediately after sex. May be in another project they would do it, I hope.

Worst works in the Summit:

There are many. However I would name one: Who will shave her Pubic Hair by T.Venkanna at the Maskara Gallery Stall.

Is it for shocking the audience? Or is it for titillating? Somebody tell these lonesome cowboys to sit up and think.

About Marathons- A quote from Paul O'Neill

(Hans Ulrich Obrist)

(Anil Ambani at Marathon Running)

The notable increase in curatorial educational projects has also strangely articulated the moment of educative learning as an authored curated space of knowledge production. this is really problematic for me and an example is the 24 hours interview marathon project of the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. Obrist is a curator I admire greatly, but how the project is mediated suggests a kind of spectacularisation of the discourse as a public medium and an ownership of the frames of discursive productioin which I dont agree with. That is enormously different from say Free Copenhagen University, Paraeducation, 16 Beaver, Unitednationsplaza, Manifest 6 exhibition as school, Proto academy and so forth, projects that all emerged out of the initiator's immediate context and functioned as saemi-contained counter -public spaces.
--Paul O'Neill, Bristol based Researcher and Curator. Source

From a dossier circulated at one of the FICA Reading Room Projects.

Friday, January 21, 2011

India Art Summit3: Aaam Aadmi’s Day In

India Art Summit Edition 3, 2011 (IAS). Welcome to the mother of all art fairs in India. Today, as far as the art scene in India is concerned all roads lead to Pragati Maidan, the permanent venue for all the national and international industrial exhibitions in Delhi. Art has not got industrial status yet. There are moves towards it. So wait for that. But there would be a problem. If you go by the old Marxian theories (ahem…we don’t want critics from the age of Dinosaurs), in any industry, there would be machines and alienated workers. Guess who would be the alienated workers in such a scenario.

Eighty four galleries and five hundred works of art. If you are healthy enough you can see all in one day. Even if someone would see all those exhibits in one go, I am sure he/she would come back on the next day not to absorb aesthetics but to absorb the ambience. You may be critical about the kind of art here, but you will be really proud of your ‘Delhi’, according to Girish Shahane, a place that ‘sucks’ all other metros dry. Hello Girish…good to see you here.

Winter and art. Delhi looks like any European city. To make it completely European, the government should disperse the population as in the ironical expression of Gigi Scaria in his work titled ‘Keep Delhi Clean’. Don’t look for it. It is not here in the IAS. Instead, a giant wheel constructed out of urban architectural motifs would welcome you right after the gate. Kudos to Gigi Scaria. This time luckily you don’t have too many imitators.

Young policemen behave extremely well. Only the private security personals will question you. The IAS makes every one very special. Each person inside and outside the Hall Number 18 at Pragati Maidan looks as if he/she is very important and is expected to play a very significant role in the art scene. Thank you IAS for making us feel responsible and good.

Last year Subodh Gupta’s masked figures welcomed you at the Sculpture park along with Iranna’s Dead Donkey, K.S.Radhakrishnan’s Selkit, Vibha’s Heaving Architecture and Jeff Gupta’s Ved Koon avatar..err sorry Ved Gupta’s Jeff Koon avatar. Hi Ved, you look smart in your retro hair do. But please remove those goggles once in a while to show your eyes to the public. At the Threshold Stall your painting sucks extremely. But your sculptures raise interest.

This year Subodh Gupta is predictable with his vessels filled rickshaw, though Nature Morte has a special solo booth for him. Mansoor Ali’s Dance of Democracy is special only because it is big. Akshay Rathode, have you seen Rimzon’s Far Away from Hundred and Eight Feet installation? If not please see it. Anjum Singh, why do you do forced installations? Adip Dutta, your cage made out of industrial steel wool does not surprise me. Graffiti filled Nano. Anybody heard about Ratan Tata and Narendra Modi? No inter-textual and intra-textual and sub-textual readings please…you sucking critic.

At Gallery 320, New Delhi’s stall I saw this sculpture. A suitcase with a Take on Art’s paper bag on it. I looked for the artist’s name. But soon I realized that it was kept there by some visitor. In IAS you will feel like looking for art in anything and everything.

I saw this Husain hidden behind a cabin under a layer of Souza’s drawings. SAHMAT people, don’t worry, Husain is ‘adequately’ represented this year.

Thank you Geetika Goel of the Delhi Art Gallery and Kanika of the Gallery Espace for giving me passes to ferry in the pass-less art students from Kerala. I had approached the IAS authorities to spare a few passes for those students. At the help desk none was there to help me. Finally one girl came who said she was ‘helpless’ as the pass distributing authority was someone else. Initially I thought of flashing my personal card to prove that I was some one in the art field. Then the years behind me (42 in total) prompted me to ask myself this question: Who are you, after all, an art critic?

The best that I noticed for the day: Gigi Scaria, Vivek Vilasini, Hans Op de Beeck, Sudarshan Shetty, Manjunath Kamath, Prajakta Potnis, Pors and Rao, Tukral and Tagra, G.R.Iranna (he strikes back with his paintings, Karl Antao and.. I will tell you tomorrow.

(The observations are purely personal. Poor quality photographs are by me)