Dharti Arts Residency 2018
‘To dwell, to settle, to be left behind’ – the meaning of the word ‘reside’ has many parents. One elegant ancestor is the Latin resedere ‘to sit back’.
At Dharti, there was a lot of sitting back…and forward, and sideways (ouch). The physical labour of creating the works on display involved a lot of hunching and squatting, but it was in the moments of repose that the art breathed.
Time spent conversing with fellow artists is as crucial to the process of making art as the actual handiwork. Dwelling together, not just in the sense of living together but also thinking together. Artists occupy and become occupied in all sorts of ways – the place changes them as much as they change the place. Just as artists take time settling into a studio, it takes time for an artwork to come into being. Ideas are born in solitude and midwifed in company.
Another word comes to mind, one that shares a syllable with ‘reside’ — res, Latin for ‘thing’. It has sired important English words like ‘reality’ and is part of the phrase ‘in medias res’ which means ‘in the middle of things’. It’s a phrase that can be interpreted in a number of ways. There is of course the obvious, descriptive meaning: the artworks displayed here were first displayed in Delhi in an open studio, as works in progress.
During the residency, we read together Jeanette Winterson’s essay Art Objects. The title is a pun on the dual meaning of object-as-res and object-as-‘to oppose’.
In the first sense, Winterson conceives of ‘the art object as an art process, the thing in being’. Closer to the commonly understood meaning of in medias res, this gives us the possibility of regarding viewing as a productive interruption – a way of catching the artist in the act, the exhibition as a moment in an ongoing process. This show is the culmination of a period of many months of work during the residency, and follows years of thinking and making before it.
In the second sense, she imagines how art objects to the viewer and unpacks the experience of being amidst artworks – in medias res as literally being ‘in the middle of things.’ Art resists the determinism of an evolutionary theory of life, it ‘objects to the lie against life, against the spirit’ and in that sense, she states, it is like love. We may not live for the purpose of appreciating beauty but, as with falling in love, it makes life worth living. This thought encapsulates the critical approach to this exhibition.
It is the rhyming of art with love that makes aesthetic objects meaningful, even when we don’t quite understand them. Being affected by the artworks and coaxing them to speak for themselves has an erotic charge.
The critical task is to witness the conversation between the spectator and the works as they reveal themselves to each other. Of this, the essay is the record. But the adventure is finally the viewer’s – intimate and transformative.
– Kamayani Sharma
Jagrut Raval, Khushbu Patel, Pannaga Jois, Ravi Kumar Chaurasiya
CRITIC IN RESIDENCE
Meenakshi Thirukode, Tushar Joag & Sharmila Samant, Rohini Devasher, Sumakshi Singh, Riyas Komu, Atul Bhalla, Mayank Mansingh Kaul, Kartik Sood, Pallavi Paul, Chandan Gomes
Sohail Hashmi, Swaraj Art Archive , St+art India Foundation, Asim Waqif, Princess Pea, Thukral & Tagra, Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, Asia Art Archive (AAA), Vibha Galhotra, Sanskriti Museums, Subodh Gupta, Gati, FICA Reading Room, Ravi Agarwal, Manisha Parekh
Devika Daulet-Singh, Latika Gupta, Manisha Parekh, Riyas Komu