Being Glocal? Art In The Age Of The Survey.
(Courtauld Institute of Art, London)
Paper short abstract:
The paper will analyze four concepts which swim below the surface of the 'contemporary Indian art survey': the national, international, global and local. Do the terms complement or compete with each other?
Paper long abstract:
If India's economic liberalization in 1991 - which often runs under the banner of globalization - opened the gateway to foreign trade, investment and TV channels, it also gave rise to another phenomenon: the survey show. These blockbuster exhibitions have been wending their way across Europe and America for the last few years, keeping Indian artists (and critics) un/gainfully occupied at prestigious venues. The 'new India' has given birth to 'a new art', says the tag-line. There is a great deal of jargon that goes along with the survey show as it makes claims to represent the 'new art from India' to an unfamiliar audience. This paper will address some of the contradictions embedded in this position: does the understanding of the national feed into or oppose the overarching concept of globality? And what happens to local (or communal) identities in this mix? The paper will analyze four concepts which swim below the surface of the 'contemporary Indian art survey': the national, international, global and local. Do the terms complement or compete with each other? Here, I focus on three survey shows in an attempt to show how each exhibition negotiated this difficult terrain: 'Edge of Desire' (NGMA, Bombay, 2007), the first to showcase craft and tribal art; the Serpentine's 'Indian Highway' (London, 2009), which featured a New Media agenda and the Centre Pompidou's 'Paris-Delhi-Mumbai' (Paris, 2010), which concentrated on the ethnic city, without disguising its colonial agenda.
Elite art in an age of populism: sowing monocultures?