Art won't wait for normalcy
Ten galleries across India and Dubai mount their existing exhibitions online to collaborate in a cross-continental effort
With the unprecedented closure of all public spaces in response to the ongoing pandemic, cultural institutions have begun to challenge the idea of traditional formats for engaging with art, with several of them hosting online programmes for the world. Across India and Dubai, 10 galleries (Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai, Experimenter, Kolkata, Gallery Espace, New Delhi, Green Art Gallery, Dubai, Grey Noise, Dubai, Nature Morte, New Delhi; PHOTOINK, New Delhi, GALLERYSKE, Bengaluru and New Delhi, The Third Line, Dubai, and Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi) have collaborated to present a digital exhibition titled, In Touch, showcasing their ongoing works and installations.
Chandramohan (The Heart; multicolour woodprint; edition of 10)
Shireen Gandhy, director, Chemould Prescott Road, says, "There's a certain privilege to being a gallerist, for the close friendships and relationships we share—we're always in conversation and ideating together; which is how this platform came to life." Roshini Vadehra, director, Vadehra Art Gallery, recalls that when the lockdown was announced, the art world, like all other industries, took time to come to terms with the new normal. "The obvious direction we had to take was digital, with a few of us discussing the advantages of a collaboration." She thinks, "When the art community comes together to do something, patrons take notice and are more appreciative of the effort. There is also a general excitement that an initiative like this creates. Collectors and enthusiasts can browse through images and engage with art from the safety of their home."
Madan Mahatta (View of South Block, Delhi; pigment print; 22 x 33 in; 1955)
Prateek and Priyanka Raja, directors and co-founders, Experimenter, believe that In Touch attempts to question existing structures, and, at the same time, offers a way to work together. "We wanted to create a structure we could all adopt, where each gallery would have the freedom to curate their own mini-exhibitions."
Desmond Lazaro (Cosmos I; media pigment paint on hand-made paper; 30 x 42 in; 2020)
However, for a quick turnaround, every gallery had to work around newer logistics. "From our first conversations to launch date, it took us two weeks to go live…and that is the power of a digital initiative," says Vadehra, with Prateek adding, "An incredible degree of coordination was needed in addition to keeping in mind the minute details and preferences of each gallery; they have their own distinct identity, which cannot be diluted. There was also a strong need for adaptability, cooperation, collaboration and flexibility to appreciate the other's point of view. While one gallery would take up communication and design of the cumulative presentation, another would be responsible for the website design and rollout."
Shireen Gandhy, Mumbai gallerist
For artists, the effort signifies a coming together of reality and interpretation. Artist Aditi Singh adds, "Offering connections is the realm where art excels, conversing between experience, perception and imagination."
But for many, art is associated with being a spacial and immersive experience, which Gandhy doesn't shy away from acknowledging. "This will never be the real experience, but for now we need to make the best of what we've got."
When Till May 24
Carpe Arte, which builds communities that support Indian contemporary art, has been supporting independent art practices by promoting their works on their Instagram page to reach buyers interested in collecting these works. "We realised that at a time like this, a lot of independent art practices do not have any support or form of income, and, so, we decided to use the access and audience we have to support these artists," says founder Natasha Jeyasingh.
Art Fervour began as a visual diary—a collection of the founder Nivedita Poddar's favourite museums, galleries, and exhibits accumulated through her travels, with a need to share experiences with an audience, equally passionate about the arts. Today, the digital art directory comprising online exhibitions, virtual art tours and podcasts, helping everyone access the world of arts from the comfort of home.
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