NEW YORK.-Asia Society and the Queens Museum of Art co-present the first-ever major exhibition of contemporary Indian art in the United States. Co-organized by the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India includes 80 cutting-edge works of sculpture, painting, drawing, installation, video and interactive media dating from 1993 to the present. Works of internationally recognized contemporary artists are shown alongside those of Indias most innovative, emerging artists. The 38 participating artists and collectivesrepresenting three generationslive and work in their native India, in urban centers as well as remote rural areas.
Edge of Desire traverses conventional divides between urban, fine art and folk tradition art, and between high culture and popular culture. Reflecting a time of socio-political transformation in India, exhibition artworks address contemporary political, social, and environmental realities existing there.
Edge of Desire reflects contemporary Indian societys constantly shifting experiences of caste alliances, class structures, and global trends in localized settings, notes Asia Society President Vishakha N. Desai. To accompany this major exhibition, Asia Society has organized India: The Future Is Now, a full slate of multidisciplinary programming to examine these dynamic trends as well as aspects of India that generally escape Western attention.
The artworks in Edge of Desire challenge preconceptions of contemporary India, whose presence in Western culture is often limited to Bollywood, yoga and outsourcing, notes Asia Society Museum Director Melissa Chiu. This exhibition aims to do for contemporary Indian art what Inside Out: New Chinese Art did in 1998 for raising awareness of the vibrant art scene in China.
An exhibition of the magnitude of Edge of Desire, filling the galleries of both the Queens Museum of Art and the Asia Society, is a tribute to the depth and diversity of contemporary Indian art as well as to the shared goal of our institutions to engage New York in artistic conversations with international visual culture," said Tom Finkelpearl, Executive Director of the Queens Museum of Art. This exhibition, paired with our complementary offering, Fatal Love: South Asian American Art Now, is a step in not only introducing South Asian visual art to the international art scene, but in urging New Yorkers to look closely at emerging communities here and now.
Edge of Desire is curated by Chaitanya Sambrani, Lecturer, Art Theory Workshop, Australian National University, Canberra. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated color catalogue with essays by leading scholars, including Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Kajri Jain.
Participating artists include: Ganga Devi Bhatt, Manu Chitrakar, Swarna Chitrakar, Atul Dodiya, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Archana Hande, N.S. Harsha, Rummana Hussain, Tushar Joag, Ranbir Kaleka, Ravi Kashi, Mallikarjun Katakol, Sonia Khurana, Raj Kumar, Nalini Malani, Umesh Maddannahalli, Kausik Mukhopadhyay, Pushpamala N. and Clare Arni), Surendran Nair, Open Circle, Cyrus Oshidar/MTV India, Sudhir Patwardhan, Raqs Media Collective, N.N. Rimzon, Sharmila Samant, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Nilima Sheikh, Nataraj Sharma, Dayanita Singh, Subhash Singh Vyam, K.G. Subramanyan, Vivan Sundaram, L.N. Tallur, Vasudha Thozhur, Santosh Kumar Das and Sonadhar Vishwakarma.
The exhibition - Edge of Desire is organized around five themesLocation/Longing, Unruly Visions, Transient Self, Contested Terrain and Recycled Futures with the first two on view at Asia Society and the final three at the Queens Museum of Art. Works in Location/Longing (on view at Asia Society) address the desire for place and the relationship with locations real and imagined. Nilima Sheikhs series of painted scrolls (2003-04) made specifically for this exhibition, reference several centuries of writing inspired by Kashmir in an extended meditation on desire and loss.
Swarna and Manu Chitrakar are members of a community of patua (scroll-maker) painter-performers from West Bengal (the surname Chitrakar, meaning painter, is a trade name that all painters from this community use). Though their work tends to be characterized as folk artimplying works that are decorative, even naïve and static in processManu and Swarna draw on their traditions and skills to articulate responses to contemporary life and events, as evidenced in Swarnas scroll Titanic (2003) based on the eponymous 2001 film and Manus scroll Afghanistan War (2003).
Unruly Visions (on view at Asia Society) is concerned with the artists relationships with the many guises of popular culture in contemporary India: the visual culture of television, advertising, cinema and Bollywood, and the unruly, mixed-up visions characterized by everyday life on the street. Atul Dodiyas triptych, Tombs Day (2001) makes parodic references to one of Indias stereotypical icons, the Taj Mahal. Executed in the visual style of billboard painting, the work is in part an ironic commentary on the media furor surrounding the visits to India by Presidents Clinton and Putin.