Symposium:16 – 17 December 2018
Old Goa Institute of Management (GIM), Panjim

In collaboration with Zain Masud and Godrej Culture Lab India.


The staggering growth of periodic/permanent, independent, and area-based art interventions, in the form of festivals, biennales, sites and community experiments raises various points of enquiry. We take the site to extend beyond the physical and architectonic environment, to networks of power, the performance of boundaries and belonging, the incursion of capital, and trajectories of difference and diaspora. The site is expanded from a singular physical space to include liminal, suspended places, nomadic lives, and “elsewheres,” evoking the function of memory and narrative in shaping the experience of a place. 

Through a two-day series of panel discussions, we engaged in an exciting conversation around the following questions: What is the relationship between the intervention and its geographic and cultural location––what relations are shared with the selected sites, its ecology, and the histories and anxieties of its contemporary moment? Do these interventions produce meaningful interlocutions in the prevailing urban fabric––what is the mandate, and from where does it emanate? How does the growth of such interventions beyond the metropolises, into spaces of conflict–– active and residual––challenge the dominant “exhibition” complex? Does this proliferation challenge the hegemony of the West in shaping the public discourse on art, or do these reassert institutionalised modes of engagement? Are there affinities and variances in these multi-city iterations––do they share transnational kinship or are autonomous?

Images from the panels at Of Other Places at SAF 2019


Panel Details

DAY ONE | 16 December, 2020

In collaboration with Zain Masud

Session 1 | Notes from the Ground: Art and Emplacement 
Devin Hentz, RAW Material Academy; Amar Kanwar, Filmmaker; Smriti Rajgarhia, Serendipity Arts Foundation.

The first session was devoted to understanding what is implied by “placemaking” and “site” in the art historical discourse of the global South. If “place” is constituted by lived experience, and is constitutive of selfhood, how do people narrate their history and identity through art? Can art projects, situated in sites of conflict, historical struggles, and oppression, grapple with contested histories, migratory pasts, and the contemporaneous regulatory frameworks that shape these sites? What do “grassroots” art projects establish, for the site and the wider region of its location? How do they relate to and transform existing social and economic structures? How do they contend with the phenomenology of residing in simultaneous spatial fields of past(s), present(s), and future(s)?

Session 2 | Rule by Aesthetics: Whose History is it Anyway? 
Katerina Chuchalina, V—A—C Foundation; Ryan Inouye, Sharjah Art Foundation; Jing-Liu, SO-IL, Nathalie Johnston, Myanm/art.

Engaging with global art interventions of varying temporal limits—sporadic, intermittent, permanent—this panel will explore how city-based art and heritage projects, in the form of events in urban commons, art districts, and public art projects, relate to structures of governmentality, socioeconomic stratification, and spatial segmentation. By enquiring into the emergence of “art zones” and “districts”––the panel seeks to address a series of concerns: What is the social location of these “sites”? Are they constituted within or are in relation to the city? Whose history are these sites addressing, and who can access them? How do such projects situate their practice and build legitimacy? Who are the stakeholders involved in these projects? Arts-led interventions open possibilities of diversity in representation and the opportunity of building a discursive public, yet these can be exclusive, marginalising, and non-participatory. The session hopes to engender consideration on the purpose and audience of such sites. 

DAY TWO | 17 December, 2020

Curated by Parmesh Shahani, Godrej India Culture Lab 

Session 3 | Re-imagining Other Indias 
Parmesh Shahani, Godrej India Culture Lab; Nisha Nair Gupta, The People Place Project; Subasri Krishnan, Indian Institute of Human Settlements; Veer Munshi, Artist.

This session is devoted to exploring the evolution and shifts in how the “urban” is defined, perceived, and experienced in India. Amidst the changing social fabric of Indian cities, creative place-making presents new ways of constructing identities and fostering a sense of community and new avenues of “being” are unfolded. Engaging with distinct projects, ranging from a travelling biennale to a film festival that seeks to craft the idea of the city, the session will interrogate the “other” Indias which fall beyond the mainstream. 

Film Screening and Discussion
Himanshu S, Dharavi Art Room 

Closing Remarks 


Amar Kanwar is an artist and filmmaker who lives and works in New Delhi. Recent solo exhibitions have been at the Ishara Art Foundation, Dubai and New York University Art Gallery Abu Dhabi (2020); Museo Nacional Thyssen- Bornemisza, Madrid, Kiran Nadar Museum, New Delhi, Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris (2019); Tate Modern, London, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, Photo Katmandu (2018); Marian Goodman Gallery, London, Bildmuseet, Umea, Sweden (2017); Goethe Institut Mumbai and NTU CCA Singapore (2016); Assam State Museum, India (2015).  In 2013-14 at the Art Institute of Chicago; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, TBA 21, Vienna and at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2012).  Other solo exhibitions have been at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2008); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2007); National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo (2006) and the Renaissance Society, Chicago (2004). Kanwar has also participated in documenta 11, 12, 13, and 14 in Kassel, Germany (2002, 2007, 2012, 2017). Kanwar has been the recipient of several awards such as the India Today Art Award ( 2018), Prince Claus Award (2017), Annenberg / Creative Time Prize for Art and Social Change (2014), Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts, Maine College of Art, USA (2006), Edvard Munch Award for ContemporaryArt, Norway (2005), Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International Film Festival, USA (1999), Golden Conch, Mumbai International Film Festival, India (1998). 

Devin Hentz is a researcher, writer, and curator from Memphis, TN. She holds a Bachelors in Art History and Philosophy from Simmons College in Boston, MA. Since completing her degree programmes, she has freelanced as an art worker in New York and London. She has recently completed the Workspace Residency at Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center as a research resident working “on the linguistic implications of second-hand clothing as it stands in African countries”. She’s also been published in the recent issues of Something We Africans Got. Her passions range from contemporary art, fashion theory, dress practices, and political histories to science and technological futures. 

Smriti Rajgarhia is Director of the Serendipity Arts Foundation and the Serendipity Arts Festival. Trained as an architect with a Masters in Design, Smriti began her career in the arts fourteen years ago working with a private archive in New Delhi, where she eventually created a museum space and archive for the collection. During this stint, her interest expanded into bringing art to the public, and contextualising art within the region through arts education and awareness. Smriti has also curated exhibitions on subjects that reflect the history and relevance of archives. From running a bespoke furniture manufacturing unit where she designed furniture, to working with exhibition space design, Art and Design are two spaces that Smriti is keen to continue working with, and often explores design through print media as well. Currently, she is leading the Foundation and working on the Serendipity Arts Festival to bring her passion for Art and Design to the forefront by creating unique opportunities for creative individuals. With these two platforms, she endeavours to explore newer forms of representation and re-contextualise the kind of programming institutions need to engage with to widen the demographic of the audience for the Arts in India. Her personal interest also lies in adapting urban spaces to presentation of the arts, reclaiming the urban and questioning the impact of art and cultural interventions for a city/state/country.

Katerina Chuchalina has been chief curator of V–A–C Foundation since 2011. She conceived and curated a longterm cycle of nomadic solo artistic interventions by at non-art institutions in Moscow: the Museum of the Armed Forces, the Museum of Modern History, the Institute for African Studies, GULAG Museum, etc. She is the co-founder and member of the Centre for Experimental Museology (CEM), which draws on the innovations of Soviet avant-garde museology and the history of experimental exhibition design. Katerina Chuchalina is part of the Artistic Team for Manifesta 13 in Marseille (2020).

Jing Liu has been practicing for more than 15 years working on a wide range of projects both in the US and abroad. Her projects range from artistic collaborations with contemporary choreographers and visual artists to master plan and major public realm design in cities like Melbourne and Indianapolis. 

Ryan Inouye is associate curator of Sharjah Biennial 12. From 2010 – 2013, he worked as assistant curator and curatorial assistant at the New Museum, New York, where he focused on the 2012 New Museum Triennial, The Ungovernables, and the Museum as Hub initiative.

Active in Myanmar since 2009, Nathalie Johnston is a curator and researcher currently living in Yangon where she has been involved in numerous independent projects and initiatives. In 2016, she founded Myanm/art, an exhibition space, gallery, and reading room dedicated to promoting contemporary art in Myanmar by developing collaborations and showcasing artists’ works to local and international audiences. In 2013, she co-founded Myanmar Art Resource Center and Archive (MARCA), an archive and resource centre that aims to become the largest bilingual digital resource on the history and current state of the arts in Myanmar. Johnston is also the director of the art initiative TS1 Yangon and co-founder of Pyinsa Rasa art collective.

Parmesh Shahani heads the Godrej India Culture Lab, an experimental space that cross pollinates ideas and people to explore what it means to be modern and Indian. He is a Yale World Fellow, a TED Senior Fellow, and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and regularly speaks about Indian cultural shifts at conferences all over the world. His book, Gay Bombay: Globalization, Love and (Be)Longing in Contemporary India (New Delhi, London, Los Angeles, Singapore: Sage Publications) was released in April 2008. 

Veer Munshi has addressed a range of subjects in the course of an artistic career that spans 17 years and has been conducted in several cities, including Baroda, Srinagar, Bombay and New Delhi. But exile remains his most fundamental condition and preoccupation. Munshi has essayed variations on the self-portrait; he has explored the possibility of revitalising the genre of portraiture by means of playful, irreverent allusiveness. He has curated the Srinagar Biennale.

Subasri Krishnan has been a filmmaker for more than a decade. She also heads the Media Lab of the Indian Institute for Human Settlement (IIHS). Her documentary films deal with contemporary politics. Her first documentary film ‘Brave New Medium’ on internet censorship in South-­‐East Asia, has been screened at film festivals, both nationally and internationally. The award-winning ‘This or That Particular Person’ looks at the idea of official identity documents and in that context, the Unique Identity number.

Nisha Nair-Gupta is the Principal Architect at Design [Variable]. With varied work experience as an architect, journalist and an active participant in the public art initiatives, she oscillates between her two interests of design and writing having spearheaded the first publication and curatorial project People Called Mumbai.

Himanshu S: with me partner Aqui and consistent support from friends, runs ‘Bombay Underground’ and ‘Dharavi Art Room’. Although trained as a painter, me has mostly worked in public spaces and participatory community projects. Me is at ease with kids, and vice-versa. Me also indulges in self-publishing, and interventions in public and private spaces. ‘Gulabjamuns’ are my weakness. As Bombay Underground, we run reading spaces, libraries, indulge in self-publishing, and interventions in public and private spaces as well as participatory community projects. As Dharavi Art Room: we utilize the medium of art to empower children and women of marginalized communities. We believe that exploring, expressing and exchanging ideas through art creates confidence and stimulates personal growth. Art Room promotes a unique and fun community participatory approach which enables the community to take control over their lives. Through workshops, exhibitions and story-telling, ART ROOM creates self-sustained community centres in marginalized neighbourhoods to explore life through art. Over the past twenty years we have reached more than 6,000 kids and partnered with more than 30 organizations and institutions.