Friday, August 28, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Here journalist and film producer Priya Krishnamoorthy takes us on a tour of the Pearl Fashion Academy in Jaipur, where Morphogenesis Architects illustrate how when it comes to designing a truly forward-thinking building, the answers might just lie in the past.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Anokhi's roots lie in Jaipur, a city whose founders were enlightened patrons of the arts and crafts. Skilled craftsmen were invited to settle here and were ensured a secure livelihood. In the Jaipur tradition, Anokhi tries to maintain an open and honest relationship with its craftspersons. It helps them to work in conditions of their own choosing and commits itself to providing them with sustained work.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
BY ROBIN HEMLEY
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A Taste of Pyongyang, the newest eatery by the North Korean the secretive phenom, Jimmy Kim, combines uncompromising Totalitarian food concepts with a flair for the dramatic.
The spent (hopefully) nuclear fuel rods lining the wall of ATOP give diners their first clue that this will not be a normal or even a necessarily pleasant dining experience. That's because Kim's culinary philosophy radically departs from the views of most restaurateurs. Kim, a graduate of the Dear Leader Culinary Institute in Pyongyang, believes that you should suffer as much as humanly possible in his establishment. This is evident from the moment you walk though the front door, past the guards dressed in full military garb with automatic weapons on their shoulders.
The maître d' confronts you with his signature greeting of "Leave now or be completely and utterly annihilated." On a good night he'll be so menacing you won't help but be intimidated into finding another eating establishment, but the strong of heart, if not stomach, are advised to ignore this bit of cutlery rattling and instead simply asked to be seated.
After a lengthy stare down, the maître d' shows you to your table. Once seated, you must adhere to two conditions: you will cook your own meal with your own ingredients, and no photography. If you refuse these terms, you will be warned that a crushing defeat will soon be brought down upon your soul. Don't give in, though; stick to your guns (to coin a phrase), and ask calmly for a menu. But don't press your luck by asking for water. This is very important.
The menu is full of North Korean delectables like, Kim Chee and Pesto ragout over broiled Tilapia and Bulgoki and pheasant eggs over mushroom medley. However, don't bother too much with deciding what to order because in the end it won't really matter, as the only dish served is the Patriotic Rice Dish, which consists of several rice grains that were personally inspected (and rejected) by the food tasters of Kim Jong Il. It's served in a lacquer bowl with a stone spork.
While it might be tempting to send your food back and ask for the dish you actually ordered, this would be unwise. Instead, after the Patriotic Rice Dish has been set before you, ask the waiter if there's anything else you can do for him, and he'll more likely than not leave you alone. But if it's a slow night you might get lucky and he'll harangue you for a half an hour about your acts of belligerence.
Once you've cleared the table, stitched the required half-dozen "People's Leisure Suits," and washed your own dishes in the water trough out back, your evening will come to an abrupt close, and you'll be blindfolded and whisked away to an unknown location in Tribeca.
You may come away from it all feeling confused and exhausted, but for Jimmy Kim that's the whole point. Of his restaurant's dining experience, he proclaims: "I WANT THE RUNNING DOGS OF CAPITALISM WHO DINE HERE TO UNDERSTAND THAT THEY HAVE NO HOPE OF FINDING BETTER FOOD ANYWHERE IN MANHATTAN, AND IF THEY TRY, THEY WILL BE SMASHED LIKED ROTTING ONIONS."
A Taste of Pyongyang
Dress code: Immaterial, but burial attire recommended, just in case.
Reservations: None, though binoculars and reconnaissance recommended.
Prices: A sincere effort to show respect for North Korean cuisine must be exhibited by a sufficient offering of hard currency via drugs, sophisticated weaponry, and/or blue prints of South Korean military installations.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
LADIES SPECIAL: English, Hindi and Marathi with subtitles, 28 mins, 2003
Directed by Nidhi Tuli
Produced by Public Service Broadcasting Trust
Screened as part of Vikalp: Films for Freedom in Pune, July 31 - August 29, 2004
Bombay remains India’s most diverse and vibrant city, the city of dreams, the one paved with gold, the one that never sleeps, where almost anyone has the chance to change his or her life for the better.
One of the many things that keeps the city paved with gold and awake all night is the enormously efficient commuter train service that ferries more than 3 million people a day to and from their workplace. Tuli’s Ladies Special travels with working women on a Western Railway train reserved for them and, for a brief time, the camera and crew become part of the spontaneous community that this train has engendered.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Aakash Nihalani’s street work consists mainly of isometric rectangles and squares. He selectively places these graphics around New York to highlight the unexpected contours and elegant geometry of the city itself. All execution of a piece is done on site with little to no planning. “We all need the opportunity to see the city more playfully,” he says, “as a world dominated by the interplay of very basic color and shape. I try to create a new space within the existing space of our everyday world for people to enter freely, and unexpectedly ‘disconnect’ from their reality. People need to understand that how it is isn’t how it has to be. My work is created in reaction to what we readily encounter in our lives, sidewalks and doorways, buildings and bricks. I’m just connecting the dots differently to make my own picture.”
Also read the article on Whitewall Magazine covered by our team in New York.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
By Meenakshi Thirukode - South Asian Contemporary Art | April 30, 2009
Photo of Subodh Gupta by Michael Benisty.
Subodh Gupta is often the subject of conversation these days. I’ve wanted to write about his works from the time I was introduced to the splendor of tightly-packed, stainless steel utensils in the Jack Shainman Gallery booth at the Armory Show in 2007. It was barely four months since I had moved to New York and I was far away from home for the first time. To be honest, I felt a hint of home sickness looking at the ‘Jeff Koonianization’ of Pathirams that my mother had many a time vehemently bargained for, with the fast talking, multitasking sellers whose stores lined T Nagar (or was it Mylapore, I can’t remember). But it didn’t matter. The instant reaction to the beauty of the object in front of me was emotional.
A little more than two years have passed since then and Subodh Gupta is bigger than any other practicing, contemporary artist from India. I often wonder if Gupta achieved this success because he associated with the right network of institutional and individual power players in the industry. Often I find that Gupta’s works have gained publicity less through critical analysis, and more because of record prices they have earned at auction, or because he has Western galleries that represent him, rather than niche galleries focusing on Indian art. I wonder about this because high auction records alone don’t make a work of art or an artist brilliant. And Western gallery representation is possibly a smart career move.
But moving beyond the politics of managing one’s artistic career, I want to look at the works themselves, in part to bring the discussion of Gupta back to the art, rather than the money. I do think that there are layers to the work that grow from the often quoted, and now trite association, to the Urban-Rural dichotomy and the relationship of it to Gupta’s own meager beginnings. Those layers speak of Beauty – Beauty that can be looked upon as an antithesis to the idea of disparities between the different sections of Indian society, or as a mere objectification of the ordinary.
To begin with, we need to address the almost-immediate association that people make between Gupta’s use of utensils and the Duchampian idea of the found object. What most people seem to forget when they bring up this comparison is that Duchamp was not interested in the idea of the found object as a work of art. He didn’t intend for it to be ‘art’ but was instead presenting an irony of what is perceived and accepted (or not accepted) as being worthy of the tag ‘art object’. When Duchamp submitted the urinal titled The Fountain for a show organized by the Society of Independent Artists in 1917, he was actually critiquing the whole notion of the venture. This was because the organization, of which Duchamp himself was a board member, claimed that it was a venue through which anyone could show works because there were no juries and no rejections. When Duchamp under anonymity submitted The Fountain, it was rejected. Duchamp made his point and art history took a drastic turn towards uncharted paths of debate on what constituted the idea of ‘art’. The context in which The Fountain is now perceived goes completely against what the artist intended. The everyday object that was by no means considered to be an object of Beauty, even in today’s context, and was put in as a work of art because of the inherent irony of it all, would now be worth millions both literally and art historically. And it is the art historical significance I am concerned with.
When Gupta uses the everyday object (utensils) it is with the full intention and knowledge of the fact that these objects are undergoing a transition from the everyday to that of objectified Beauty. Therefore, it is not a representation of the Duchampian idea of the found object, but rather a negation of it. It is not meant to challenge the idea of what constitutes art, and it is not a critique of art or the art world. It is an intentional act in which Gupta transforms the objects original function/meaning/intent so that he can call attention to the notions of idealized Beauty especially within the cultural norms of Indian society. The viewer is presented with an idea of Beauty, evident in what has now become an object of art, and will now be contemplated as such.
It is Beauty that becomes pertinent to the understanding of Gupta’s works. Louise Bourgeois said about Beauty, ”Beauty is a series of experiences and a mystified expression of our own emotion.” Beauty has been the center of debate for artists and critics alike since the turn of the 20th century. Beauty was seen as being frivolous post- 1960’s, partially in reaction to the idealism of the early 20th century. When I look at Beauty in today’s context, I think it is far more capricious at this point in Mankind’s history than ever before. To understand how that idea functions in Gupta’s works, one must first understand it within the context of where he comes from and then how it relates to his practice globally.
Today Beauty is directly associated with the good things in life – that’s how it is marketed. The idea of Beauty within the context of contemporary India is very important. There are inherent biases in the idea of Beauty and might I add ‘coolness’ as perceived and projected in India. They range from the now infamous Fair and Lovely Ad’s that spring from the notion that you have to be fair to be considered a beautiful woman worthy of a man’s attention, to the notion that you are ‘cool’ (another facet of Beauty) if you flaunt the latest branded accessories to college or are in a ‘live in’ relationship at twenty. Gupta’s work is an expression of such definitions of perfection and Beauty, first at a visceral level, before he digs a little deeper. His steel wall sculptures and stand alone pieces are an expression of clean, defined, ‘stain-less’ precision. Even his recent canvases have dabs and streaks of paint slapped across the surface as if to make the viewer notice how he (the artist), has violated the perfect, carefully painted surfaces that mimic the shine of unused vessels. Yes, it is the new unused object that Gupta glorifies in all its grandeur through large paintings or installations, before the dirt and grime of usage can take that glimmer away. Before the Beauty of it fades in the eye of the beholder.
Gupta pushes this deliberate idea of beauty and perfection in society projected again and again by his repetitive placement of multiple objects. In doing so he transforms the ordinary into something more fantastic – an art object. The repetition of objects emphasizes the constant bombardment of the media as it seeks to market products day in and day out. It is a massive, symmetrical, gigantism of perfection with the shiny untainted coolness of steel utensils. Its almost teetering on the lines of an overkill of flawlessness, that might leave you feeling disgusted if you see too much of it.
The work also takes a jab at the debate of whether Indian art needs to be more local (have conspicuous cultural references) or global (universal resonance) in its language. It feeds into the need for the Indian-ness that is argued against, but is unreservedly a part of Gupta’s art because of where he comes from. And this points to the fact that be it Western or Indian societal conditioning, the works give rise to very similar, one-layered interpretations at first (Remember my own reaction being very literal.). And in doing so, it mocks the viewer for being so superficial just as he/she might be functioning within the scheme of society making judgments of others and the self. That surface-level interaction most people have with art, wherein they look at the work and instinctively decide if it’s beautiful or not and to what degree, before making any other association is immediate in Gupta’s case. Perhaps the artist wants to stop at just that. Or perhaps he wants us to challenge our own ideas rather than his.
Monday, August 3, 2009
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Saturday, August 1, 2009