Sunday, 30 September 2012

Traces from iaab: Akshay Raj Singh Rathore

Akshay Raj Singh Rathore, currently on a residency at iaab Basel, presents 3-works at an artist run archive space called DOCK in Basel. [dated September 2012]

Akshay Raj Singh Rathore, currently on a residency at iaab Basel, presents 3-works (i- series videos, The unbearable lightness of being I & -culure I) at an artist run archive space called DOCK in Basel. The exhibition will be on view until end October.

Apart from this presentation at DOCK Basel, a major part of Akshay’s residency was a site-specific work 'Let it Bloom', executed on a swiss farm outside of Zurich. This is a time bound work and the final realization will happen when the plants bloom in November end.

Artists brief on project: 
Let it Bloom - a site -specific installation

I applied to the Pro-Helvetia residency programme with Let it bloom, a site-specific installation. Finding the right environment and the right person/organisation to host it was an integral part of the project. Thanks to IAAB, I met Martin and could work at his farm on a beautiful and insüiring land. Beyond the realisation of this particular project, working at Martin’s farm had a very important resonance on my entire residency and the conceptualization of my work around the larger notion of ‘–Culture’.

Let it bloom stems from an earlier work of mine titled Rai Ka Pahad. Close to the English expression ‘don’t make a mountain of a mole hill’, this first work, Rai Ka Pahad - literally ‘mountain of mustard’ is titled after a very commonly used Hindi phrase from which the idea of the sculpture originates. The seeds accumulate to shape a floating organic mountain chain. Imposing, mountains frame our landscape and defy the sky. Symbol of immutability, they pass through times, like myths and phrases are transmitted from a generation to another…magic of human oral legacy. Rai Ka Pahad is a very literal sculpture of a mountain covered with mustard seeds and in that sense it deliberately plays with a strictly formal approach to the medium and first layered imaginary of the metaphor. The parable of Mathew in the New Testament says that ‘if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain move from here, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you’. The painstaking accumulation of mustard seeds evokes this same quantity of faith it takes to do the impossible.

In collective, political and geographical imaginaries, mountains stand alone complex. Natural territorial borders or geopolitical ones, they have been at the heart of disputes and decisive historical battles. In this context, Rai Ka Pahad takes on the shape of Eastern Ghats hills. Located in Orissa, these have been at the centre of agitation lately, because of their aluminium resources disputed between the locals-asked to relocate- and Vedanta, the industrial company wanting to mine the rich grounds threatening to uproot the lives of thousands…

Let it bloom is an organic mustard mountain, blooming in a natural environment and landscape. Carrying on further the various explorations and researches initiated during the process of making Rai Ka Pahad, this is a new phase of the work, a mountain of mustard sculpted in a natural environment, with natural soil and sown seeds, which, with time, will bloom.

Beyond the interesting but evident visual contrast between the two works, the idea is to explore the evolution from one physical form to another- here from the barren to the fertile- and the meanings such an evolution can carry intrinsically. After relying on the literal meaning of Rai Ka Pahad, with Let it bloom, I explore further the simplicity and maybe triviality of a literal reading of metaphors. Like in the parable of Mathiew, Rai Ka Pahad stands as the first phase, it accumulates faith to enable the bloom. The displacement of the disputed chain of mountains to a peaceful and neutral country, Switzerland, is possible but metaphorical. 

Akshay Raj Singh Rathore 
Hof Blum, September 2012

Alexander Hahn to participate in seminar on Curatorial Practice

Swiss electronic media artist, Alexander Hahn will be participating in the seminar moderated by Bangalore-based artist and curator, Anil Kumar at the United Art Fair. [dated September 2012]

'Curatorial Practice & its Intervention in Artistic Practice and Theory’
A seminar presented by The United Art Fair with the support of Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council

29 September 2012 / Pragati Maidan, New Delhi 

Swiss electronic media artist, Alexander Hahn will be participating in the discussion moderated by Bangalore-based artist and curator, Anil Kumar. 
Date: 29 September 2012 
Time: 5:00 – 6:30 pm 
Venue: The United Art Fair Seminar Hall 
Entry: As per United Art Fair rules 

Beside Alexander Hahn and Anil Kumar other panelists include Johny ML, Head Curator, United Art Fair and the artist Chintan Upadhyay. The seminar aims to address current questions about curation. Whether curation acts as an ‘alibi’ to theoretical practice of visual culture is debatable. Does it clamor for an ‘independent identity’ of its own, as a separate stream from and akin to artistic practice and theory? The discourse continues as the panelists aim to delve into whether site-specificity of an artwork and context-specificity of curation have a possible meeting point, real or metaphorical?

Swiss-born Alexander Hahn is in India on a three-month residency. A pioneering electronic media artist who lives and works in New York and Zurich, Hahn is a fellow of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. His videos, installations and computer prints have been exhibited worldwide, most recently at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Kunstmuseum Solothurn/CH, Museum der Moderne Salzburg/AT, Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Ferrara/IT, National Art Museum of China, Beijing/CN. Hahn is the recipient of the following awards: New York State Council on the Arts Grant, Zurich Work Award, Cultural Prize of St. Gallen, and the Swiss Federal Grant.