Public presentation: Collaborative and Engaging Activism in Contemporary Indian Art: Notes on Agrarian Distress
By PREETI KATHURIA, PhD Researcher, Department of Art History, University of Applied Arts, Vienna
15th of July 2023, 7.00 p.m.
Adress: GreenHouse, Str. Sf. Atanasie nr. 25, Iași
”Contemporary art offers an infinite anthology on issues of significance. Artists represent diverse voices and perspectives, which not only define their niche art practices but may also have social underpinnings. Artistic practices that combine creativity with strategic planning, that aim at spreading awareness to create an impact and/or bring about a change are considered activist in nature. One very popular example is the Guerrilla Girls who choose art as a medium to fight against gender bias and racism that persists within the art world. In New York, 1985, the masked group of women created posters and public letters questioning the existing norms and brought a new awareness on discrimination. Another globally recognised artist-activist from China is Ai Wei Wei, whose art is a reflection of his absolute distrust in the manipulative and corrupt political system of his country.
Although in India there has been sporadic art activism in the past, a number of artists have focused on the looming agrarian distress and the spiralling number of farmer suicides, primarily males, in the last twenty years. Through their artistic practice they recognise and reflect upon the irreconcilable problem of our time. Some artists like Aditi & Shweta Bhattad (Gram Art Project), Thukral & Tagra, Adithyaa Sadashiv, Siddhesh Gautam etc. have responded to these problems by making some compelling statements through creative impulses. Numerous curatorial projects have also been initiated to address and involve artists, scientists, geologists, ecologists and various other stakeholders. These radical artistic enquiries, emerging from a pernicious rural situation in a primarily agrarian country, raise some very relevant questions: should these artistic impulses be seen as a private rumination of the artist or do they actually emerge as an intellectual pursuit that call for immediate action? What is the aim or goal of art as activism? Does it crystallize into a perceptible change or does it remain memorialized as a piece of history? The aim of this study is to analyse how contemporary art practice is providing meaning, context and a critical perspective to the issues associated with farmer suicides.” (Preeti Kathuria)
Preeti Kathuria is an educator and researcher who specializes in contemporary visual arts. She holds post-graduate degrees in History of Art from the National Museum Institute, New Delhi (2007) and in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, London (2009) as a Charles Wallace India Trust Scholar. She has worked as Assistant Editor, Contemporary Art with the Lalit Kala Akademi (National Academy of Art), New Delhi and has been writing on contemporary art for various art journals and magazines. Besides critical writing and editorial work, she has taught visual art at several universities and colleges in India. At present she is pursuing her Phd in Art History, Zentrum Fokus Forschung, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria.
This event is co-funded by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund. This project does not necessarily represent the position of The Administration of the National Cultural Fund. AFCN is not responsible for the content of the project or how project results can be used. These are entirely the responsibility of the beneficiary of the funding.
The main partner of tranzit.ro is ERSTE Foundation.
Image: 'Lull of the Land' Preeti Kathuria, Mixed Media, 2020