Sunday, October 21, 2012

Exhibition designing gains in prominence

India doesn’t have many qualified and experienced exhibition designers currently. Many gallerists and curators are increasingly paying heed to exhibition design. The recent Raja Deen Dayal photography show at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts was another example of the trend.

Of course, the realization has been there for the need to have expert exhibition designers to fructify an artist’s vision. In the beginning of her career, Nilima Sheikh in a show ‘When Champa Grew Up’ (1984) had made 12 folio-sized narrative works. The artist had intended for them to be bound and shown as a book. But as the exhibit neared, she decided to abandon the idea. The paintings were randomly put up on the wall. However, she gave it a serious thought in her show ‘Each Night Put Kashmir in Your Dreams’ that traveled from Mumbai based Chemould Prescott Road to the LKA, Delhi.

She wanted her viewers to enter 6x10ft scrolls of lavish, large-scale miniature paintings. They hung on a hardly visible aluminum substructure, making them seem like floating canvases to suit the fantastical nature of the works. This change of approach on her part suggests a desire to experiment with exhibit space and design, pointing to a greater focus on museology.

This is an important facet, which has been added to Indian contemporary art practice. However, it is largely the domain of specialists like Mark Prime who came to Mumbai from the UK five years ago. He has worked on various art projects. For Anish Kapoor’s grand Mumbai display some time ago, he worked as a as a consultant exhibition designer. He played a major role in transforming the Mehboob studio into a space for showcasing cutting-edge sculptures. He also helped design artist Ranbir Kaleka’s solo show at Volte, Mumbai.

A museologist cannot really replace the curator - who is essentially in charge of the show’s thematic, but is still needed right from the development stage, according to Vishal K Dar, one of the few experts in this fast emerging domain.

No comments:

Post a Comment