Tuesday, June 26, 2012

United Art Fair: Entry Closed- Real Closure of a Surreal Day

(Jeene Do..A Digital work by Oli Ghosh. A must see work from the United Art Fair)

“Sir, can I take a minute from you?” a sweet but desperate female voice rings in my ears. I have been listening to sweet voices for the last two months. Sweetness in voice has no gender barriers. Artists are sweet talkers. They are polite and pleasing. They are like the followers of Malcolm X; he was non-violent to those people who were non-violent to him and violent to violent ones. Artists are polite and sweet because United Art Fair has been sweet and polite to them. And above all it is always good to recharge yourself with nice sounding voices. Do you feel a sort of power when someone requests something from you? No, we are not that kind of people who throw around our weight. Everyone in United Art Fair is fair enough in dealing with the artists. We don’t let anyone to request or genuflect while seeking a chance for participating in the United Art Fair. When they bend we too bend equally. We are not arrogant people. But look, there is a limit to everything.

What I want to say is this- United Art Fair entry is now officially closed. The word official might give you a hope because in India anything that closes officially will have a side door for unofficial entry. On 2nd October, when we celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, Government of India tells us not to drink at all in the memory of the one who had fought and died for our independence. But Gandhiji does not know what sun set causes to those tipplers. They go to the nearest private liquor shop. They may drive many kilometres searching for such shops. And there you will find huge shutters down like the guillotine blade in an executioner’s block. But you hang around for a while then you see a couple of bricks being taken away from the wall and a cavity appearing there. You push the money and whisper the brand name into that void of darkness you get your bottle in seconds. That’s how unofficial things work in India.

 (Surprisingly fresh- Work by Karan Uppal- from United Art Fair)

In United Art Fair the bricks are strong. We do not unofficially accept any applications further. I am sure some of you will come to us just to test whether we would accept applications again or not. If at all we do it would be on humanitarian considerations. We cannot see an artist going back hanging his head down with wonderful works tucked under his arm, and sobbing his soul out under the fierce sun of Delhi. We have seen this scene enough. We have gone through this situation enough. If the dust bins of galleries could speak they would tell you the number of compact disks that they have carried to the kooda wallah every morning. United Art Fair does not rubbish art or art works. We respect and appreciate good art works. What would happen if all the mobile handsets start speaking on their own one fine morning? Or all the gallery executives speak their mind to their bosses in a surprising bout of strength and courage? Marriages will collapse and gallery executives will lose their jobs. But still there is hope for the gallery executives. Even if you speak up, gallerists will pretend that they did not hear it because to run a gallery you need at least one efficient and good looking executive, and today their supply is inversely proportionate to the actual demand. One more thing good looking-ness does not assure efficiency. United Art Fair is lucky in that way because we are bunch of beautiful and intelligent people. We take care of artists and their works.

(New ways of approach- work by Marippalli Praveen Goud- from United Art Fair)

The sweet voice in my phone tells me, “Sir, I have sent the application via email.” I will check it tomorrow, I tell her, trying to sound equally polite and sweet. Male voice should be grainy and gruff, that’s the way they like it, or at least that is the way the guys like to believe that they are liked for their gruffy, grainy voice. In mobile phone most of the boys are mimicry artists; girls are not far behind. I remember a friend of mine picking up her phone and responding to the unfamiliar numbers in a very gruff voice. She is a lecturer in a college. So she wants to sound authoritative. But the moment she realizes that it is her friends, the capital HI turns into a sugary syrupy small hiiiiiiiiiiii. We human beings are the most unnatural beings. We pretend to death. But I try to be very natural with the sweet voice in my phone. “Sir, for me it is a great chance sir. I want to participate in the United Art Fair and please appreciate my works, sir.” In the fiery heat of June I melt standing in the middle of the road. I am familiar to such entreating. I keep my calm and fight the heat wave like a power ranger with flash swords.

 (Hybrid Reality by Reji Arakkal- from United Art Fair)

I reassure the lady with some good words. Let me see is a phrase that works as a euphemism for a big NO. But in United Art Fair, if we say ‘Let’s us see’, we do look into it because we are here for you, artists of India. Today with the entries closed, I as the team leader could proudly say that in India now there are two categories of artists; one, who are with United Art Fair and who are not with United Art Fair. Here is an art fair, absolutely free and fair for you. If you are not with it, then obviously there must be some problem with your system of thinking about art and art exhibitions. Today, we are going to see the works and of course we have been seeing each and every work send to us by the artists. Let me tell you, India has got wonderful artists but India do not have wonderful galleries to accommodate all these artists. The works of art that we have received are simply wonderful and they showcase the variety of India’s thinking. The artists who have joined the United Art Fair do not believe in the ironed out global aesthetics of spectacles. They are genuine like pearls and gems.

(The Bengali Bride- by Suparna Dey- From United Art Fair)

United Art Fair does only this much; these precious stones have been lying hidden in the womb of India’s culture. What we do is just pick them up, refresh and present. 

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