Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dealing with questions of identity

In the case of diaspora, exiles, immigrants and emigrants, struggles with dislocation and recognition of the empowering potential remain a constant engagement. Postmodern thought looks at 'identity' as something fragmentary and dynamic, rather than static.

The questions of identity 'now' orbit around the development of new identities and homogenous cultures which stand in contrast to the hybrid, plural and technical. This question of identity carries valence for artists particularly in the age of globalization where boundaries are not so definite and dynamic. Interactive processes through diverse media, which is essentially observable in the virtual space that has shrunk the world to a small screen, takes precedence over others.

This suggests, as an accompanying note to a new show at New Delhi-based Latitude 28, a brave new terrain where the poetry of visual arts is often completed in the imagination of the viewer, signaling a shift away from the history of visual arts as a single narrative that distinguishes itself from the inheritance of aesthetic traditions. Inhabiting itself in the 'now' of the increasingly common international biennales with their gatherings of diverse and maybe even incommensurable practices, contemporary visual arts is generating communication and confusions in the mélange of practices from disparate cultures.

What it all proposes is a critical articulation of contemporary cultural practices and their representation, and of what contemporaneity might in fact be. The immediate challenges are clear: bringing together artists from different geographical and cultural zones into a single exhibition space as divergent as they may be culturally and geographically. The new urban space is particularly well suited as a starting point for understanding contemporary India: The city is a crucially intricate construction born out of the intersection of diverse social, economic and cultural tempers, as a source of multi valiantly layered experiences, playing itself in various keys across diverse visual regimes. The city, now occupies the mind of the artists in various arresting poses.

Among the participating artists, Arunkumar H.G, manipulates ready-made objects such as toys, plastic, ceramics, cow dung, hay and TV monitors in varied contextual settings giving a glimpse of his susceptibility towards the neo-pop movement. This eclectic approach allows Kumar to articulate his ideas through remarkable, layered meanings.

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