Exploring the heritage of art

Exploring the heritage of art


Exploring the heritage of art

It was not for the first time, the conference hall of School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University was packed to its capacity. Film screening is a weekly activity here. For JNU students these films are like a treat after hectic classes. To Let the World In, a documentary by Avijit Mukul Kishore was a delight package for them last week.

The film, a two-volume film project, looks at a significant period in the history of contemporary Indian art from the early 1980s to the present day. “The film features three generations of celebrated Indian visual artists who share recollections, reminiscences and concerns about their practice,” says Avijit who was present for the screening along with the artists featured in the film.

“What emerges through this exercise is an invaluable document of some landmark moments in Indian art history in the last three decades,” says Avijit while addressing students.

The first volume which was 93 minutes long chronicles the spirit and legacy of a movement that marked the return to narrativity and figuration in Indian art. The exhibition titled “Place for People”, which was held in Delhi and Mumbai in 1981, brought together a group of artists and a critic who sought to explore locality, class and politics in their practice.

The artists featured in this volume Arpita Singh, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Vivan Sundaram, Nilima Sheikh, Nalini Malani, Sudhir Patwardhan, Ranbir Kaleka, Pushpamala N, Anita Dube and Atul Dodiya traces the artists’ concerns reflected in their work, tracing it down to the present day. Their conversations see frequent visitations by the endearing spirit of Bhupen Khakhar, their friend and co-artist.

The second volume of the film starts with the tumultuous context of art practice on the cusp of India’s economic liberalisation and the re-assertion of religious
fundamentalism in Indian politics.

Artistes like Anju Dodiya, Archana Hande, Benitha Perciyal, Sharmila Samant, Parvathi Nayar, Riyas Komu, Tushar Joag, Shilpa Gupta, Josh P.S. talks about the crisis in art education in the 1990s and the need to frequently reinvent themselves to adjust to a changing world.