Indian Pavilion in Venice Biennale: Everyone Agrees: It’s About to Explode…

Exhibitors: Zarina Hashmi, Praneet Soi, Gigi Scaria and The Desire Machine Collective (Sonal Jain and Mriganka Madhukaillya)

Curator: Ranjit Hoskote

Venue: Arsenale (Artiglierie)

Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi (India’s National Academy of Art) participation in the 54th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia

The historic occasion of India’s first-ever National Pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia – which will be organized by the Lalit Kala Akademi, India’s National Academy of Art, and curated by cultural theorist and poet Ranjit Hoskote – provides an opportunity to stretch the idea of India. This pavilion will approach that idea through the tropes of transcultural practice, migration and cross-pollination. Indeed, this pavilion is intended to serve as a laboratory in which we will test out certain key propositions concerning the contemporary Indian art scene. Through it, we could view India as a conceptual entity that is not only territorially based, but is also extensive in a global space of the imagination.

Hoskote’s aim, in making his selection of artists, is to represent a set of conceptually rigorous and aesthetically rich artistic practices that are staged in parallel to the art market. Furthermore, these have not already been valorized by the gallery system and the auction-house circuit.

The Indian manifestation will also focus on artistic positions that emphasize the cross-cultural nature of contemporary artistic production: some of the most significant art that is being created today draws on a diversity of locations, and different economies of image-making and varied cultural histories.

The four artists/ artist groups chosen to represent India in this pavilion are:

1. Zarina Hashmi (print-maker and mixed-media artist; born in Aligarh, 1937; now lives and works in New York)

2. Praneet Soi (painter, sculptor, video artist; born in Kolkata, 1971; now lives and works in Amsterdam and Kolkata)

3. Gigi Scaria (painter, sculptor, video artist; born in Kothanalloor, Kerala, 1973; now lives in New Delhi)

4. The Desire Machine Collective (Sonal Jain, born in Shillong in 1975, and Mriganka Madhukaillya, born in Guwahati in 1978; DMC is a media collective based in Guwahati, Assam, and works across film, installation and public space projects)

These artists are transcultural in the range of their conceptions and their practice, yet anchored in a strong commitment to the specific historical dynamic of South Asia. Taken together, they embody impulses from diverse regional modalities, religious lineages, sub-cultural locations, aesthetic choices, and philosophical perspectives, within the larger formation of India.

The Lalit Kala Akademi has been in the forefront of upholding and showcasing the visual richness of India through such occasions. The Akademi has, to its credit, the mandate of organizing a major periodic festival of the visual arts, the Triennale India, founded in 1968 by the visionary writer and critic, Mulk Raj Anand as India’s contribution to the creation of a global art-historical discourse presented from a non-Western perspective. Triennale India has been manifested through 11 successful editions.

Read more about Venice Biennale