Saturday, December 26, 2009

The show of the year 2009: ‘India Xianzai’

Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in association with Seven Art Limited, ICIA (Institute of Contemporary Indian Art) and ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) unveiled a grand show of Indian contemporary art. Entitled ‘India Xianzai’ (India Now), it showcased probably one of the largest ever collections from the country displayed in China.

The ambitious and meticulous curatorial exercise was an outcome of thorough research on Indian contemporary art undertaken by Alexander Keefe and Diana Freundl. The exhibition was based on the premise that India’s rich culture and history has inspired artists, not only within India, but also those residing abroad.

In a way, ‘India Xianzai’ was an examination of various processes, narrative structures and aesthetic strategies focusing on the question of culture as an agency in artistic expression. Importantly, this was not just any exhibit but a museum show.

Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) became the first major art museum in China to unveil a grand show of Indian contemporary art. Spelling out the strategy of the museum, its Chairman and Director Samuel Kung stated: “Under the city's umbrella of influence, we hope to act as a catalyst in the arts arena, as well as an interpreter in the growing cultural dialogue between China and the world.”

The works on view collectively provided a timely glimpse of the growing presence and importance of Indian contemporary art. They strove to act as a link between what constitutes Indian-ness in the context of contemporary art and today's 'global' community.

Putting it in a broader context, an accompanying note mentioned: “India is undergoing a phenomenal transformation as the country develops, and new cities escalate into modern metropolises. However, this rapid expansion has not hindered the impulse towards international standards, while fostering its own economic and social values.”

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