Art News & Views

Guest Editorís Column


It involves a sense of dramatic and of the insurgent making a great deal of one's rare opportunity to speak. Invited to edit this issue of News and Views I tried to center on the concerns of identity and language wavering between “Indianess” and global. In today's art practice the so called 'Indianess' cannot be interpreted in terms of nation, homogeneity, belonging and border but by stretching ourselves to a kind of decenteredness away from the classical concept that this planet is divided into three worlds in the custody of janitors like Clinton, Arafat or Shamir. In fact we all know the systematic discipline by which the European culture (read colonialists) was able to manage and even produce the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, and imaginatively during the post enlightenment period. In other words is style of knowledge that goes hand in hand with, or is produced out of the actual control or domination of real geographical territory and people. A notion of what we know as Indian tradition, which is a colonial construct, the patriarchy of which lies in the ground of high modernism has been dismantled long time back by the opening of art practice and explosion of 'Theory' to crucial disciplines like photography, art history, gender studies, linguistics, cinema, post colonialism, psychoanalysis, literary theory, internet etc. As a result we see more of new media art, computer art and installations etc as artists more and more becoming pressingly engaged to the tropes of time and epoch that they live in and expressing the anxieties and concerns of globalization. But there is another view that is being carried out furtively and vehemently opposed to these new experimentations that provided glimpses of a powerful yet contrasting sweep of an intellectual rigeur that has yielded works deeply esoteric, is the modernist technique of conventional painting on canvas that rubbishes the tricks in digital movies and faster modems.

It is the trope of out times to locate the question of culture in the realm of the beyond. We are less exercised by annihilation- the death of the author- or epiphany- the birth of the 'subject'. Our existence and the present is marked by a tenebrous sense of survival, living on the borderlines of the present, for which there seems to be no proper name other than the current and controversial shiftiness of the prefix 'post': postmodernism, postcolonialism, postfeminism. For some art practice is still priesthood not just confessional orgy. A large double bed with stained and rumpled clothes, a jar of oral contraceptives, a discarded condom, cow-dung smeared self portraits, annoys and excites at the same time. Some pithily comment it as conceptual art.

First the confrontational and the heroic- outsider to the mainstream and its institutions who upheld a subversive revolutionary identity, and the second that verge on the solipsistic guise, whose reclusive symptoms manifest often through a disquieting expressionism by using the premises of new media. The complex entanglements of cultural currents that emerged with present concerns in postcolonial studies can only be presented adequately in this new directions taking place in art practice like these and thus become an experience. If former simple presentation models are abandoned and the dialogues between cultures as open process, today's exhibition space transforms into a site of 'contemporary gaze'. The present practices/new media provokes a dialogue that will not question our own notion of culture and society but will also affect how we imagine ourselves. The dialogue is a continuous process: it has little to do with past concepts of edification but emerges as a vital process, a landscape where we become familiar with the changes influencing our lives. Thus signals out how an eclectic range of imagery from the changing world of postcolonial India became instrumental in evolving a visual language of collage and citation, which in turn, acted as a vehicle of cultural force, creating and negotiating as the sacred, the erotic, the political, the modern and beyond. This issue provides an insight into the condition of contemporary art in India and the opportunity for many questions regarding the idea of “identity” and to what extent we stretch ourselves? The questions that come up is there a need to probe? For whom the programme is being done? Nothing but the most complex and historically specific conceptions of identity and subjectivity can sufficiently grasp the present situation and articulate a politics adequate to it. Perhaps the cultural time is paced differently according to one's location in relations to domination. Thus, the 'afterlife' of colonial discourse is very different for the colonizer and the colonized. The 'Other' no longer geographically distanced, but within, and over time significantly shaping landscape and culture. Not all places in the transnational circuit are however, similarly 'post-colonial'. The active, subjective, inescapable, everyday engagement of our living. The essays in this issue weave together issues and concerns of the present day artists and examine the role and practice and also explain the new media without losing sight of the broader historical context.

The crisis deepens as the language and practice of painting meander into these platitudes of two worlds as we seek to resolve the conflict through these writings of experts carried out in the present issue of news and views.

 Nanak Ganguly 
 Guest Editor 



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art etc. news & views is a monthly magazine published from India in order to promote art and culture. It intends to raise awareness about art all around India and the world. The magazine covers art exhibitions, auction highlights, market trends, art happenings besides Antique, Collectibles, Fashion, Jewellery, Vintage, Furniture, Film, Music and Culture.