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Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India (June 14 — September 18, 2006)
Seen for the first time on the West Coast, this major exhibition brings together an extraordinarily diverse range of artists and works of art to create new perspectives on culture and politics in India today.
Berkeley, CA, March 10, 2006—The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is proud to announce a major exhibition of contemporary Indian art that will presented at BAM/PFA—its only West Coast venue—this summer. Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India, the first major exhibition of its kind to be presented in the U.S., brings together more than seventy works representing an extraordinarily diverse selection of artists from throughout India. Works in the exhibition represent the many ethnicities, languages, religions, political ideologies, and social strata that define modern India, and include both emerging and established Indian artists. The exhibition, which is organized by the Asia Society, New York, and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, will be accompanied by a exciting range of lectures and performances, as well as a film series at the Pacific Film Archive. The exhibition will open on June 14 and run through September 17, 2006.
Today India represents one of the fastest growing countries in the world, and its economy is expected to remain among the world's largest for much of this century. Despite its size and increasing importance internationally, awareness of contemporary Indian culture in the West is often limited to preconceptions relating to Bollywood, yoga, and outsourcing. Edge of Desire crosses conventional divides between folk and tribal traditions, popular culture, and international contemporary art, reflecting changes that have been underway in India in recent decades. Together, the wide range of works featured in the exhibition dramatically expand our understanding of India and Indian art.
Much of the art in the exhibition addresses religion and politics. Gulammohammed Sheikh's work depicts the destruction of the Babri mosque in 1992 that led to many years of sectarian strife, an event that is also the inspiration for N.N. Rimzon's moving installation Speaking Stones. The Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective (the Persian and Urdu word "raqs" describes the ecstatic state of "whirling dervishes") captures images from the World Wide Web to communicate issues of contemporary global concern, using an interface that evokes nineteenth-century public health pamphlets. Power politics is the subject of Atul Dodiya's painted triptych, and Nilima Sheikh's large paintings suspended from the ceiling describe the Kashmir of her youth, before it became a site of conflict.
The reach of Western popular culture is seen in sister and brother Swarna and Manu Chitrakar's appropriation of the film Titanic. Professional storytellers from West Bengal, the Chitrakars retell the tragic tale in the form of painted scrolls of a type historically used to recount secular and religious narratives. Similarly, self-taught artists Raj Kumar Koram and Ganga Devi Bhatt draw on folk art to create autobiographical narratives in sculpture and painting. Ranbir Kaleka's hand-colored film refers to popular film and soap operas. The monitor is enclosed in the sort of tent that houses puppet theaters in local festivals.
Edge of Desire features the work of nearly forty artists representing three generations. Some—such as Nalini Malani, the Raqs Media Collective (Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and Jeebesh Bachi), Ranbir Kaleka, Atul Dodiya, and Nataraj Sharma, all of whom represented India in the 2005 Venice Biennale—have shown widely on the international stage. The exhibition also includes work by artists previously little known outside South Asia.
Edge of Desire is organized around five themes: Location/Longing, Unruly Visions, Transient Self, Contested Terrain and Recycled Futures. Works in Location/Longing address the desire for place and the relationship with locations real and imagined. Unruly Visions 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. The section on Transient Self examines migration and transience as major features of the contemporary Indian experience. Works included under this theme range from personal histories and realist commentaries to fabrications of self-transformation. Recycled Futures encompasses works that conflate regenerating materials and renewal of tradition, and that are playful, often satirizing popular consumer culture.
Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India is curated by Chaitanya Sambrani, Lecturer, Art Theory Workshop, Australian National University, Canberra.
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, Kausik Mukhopadhyay, Pushpamala N. and Clare Arni, Surendran Nair, Open Circle, Cyrus Oshidar/MTV India, Raqs Media Collective, N.N. Rimzon, Sharmila Samant, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Nilima Sheikh, Nataraj Sharma, Dayanita Singh, Subhash Singh Vyam, K.G. Subramanyan, Vivan Sundaram, Vasudha Thozhur, Santosh Kumar Das and Sonadhar Vishwakarma.
Film Series at the Pacific Film Archive
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Pacific Film Archive will present Desire Under the Banyan, a film series exploring the edges of convention and cultural practice in modern-day Indian cinema and its global diaspora. Provocative feature films addressing accepted notions of the family, gender, national identity, India's burgeoning economy, and the cinema itself will be complemented by a handful of innovative documentaries. The series will begin in June and run through summer. In the fall, an Indian documentary filmmaker (still to be announced) will be an honored artist-in-residence at the film archive.
Montalvo Art Center
This fall, several of the artists in Edge of Desire, including Nalini Malani, will be residents at the Montalvo Art Center's Sally and Don Lucas Artists Programs in Saratoga. Concurrent with the presentation of the exhibition at BAM/PFA, a selection of works from Edge of Desire will be exhibited at the at Montalvo Arts Center gallery. More information at http://www.villamontalvo.org/.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated color catalogue with essays by leading scholars, including Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore, India, and Kajri Jain, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.
Available in hardcover ($38) at ="http://bampfa.berkeley.edu/museumstore/" target="new">http://bampfa.berkeley.edu/museumstore/.
Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India will be accompanied by an extensive and vibrant array of public programs, including lectures, panel discussions, performances, and a film series at the Pacific Film Archive. In addition related events will be presented at UC Berkeley's Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology, the Center for South Asian Studies, and Cal Performances. The programs to be presented by BAM/PFA currently include:
Lecture on contemporary Indian art
Vishakha N. Desai, president of the Asia Society, New York
Sunday, June 18, 2 p.m., BAM/PFA.
Lecture/performance of traditional Baul vocal music
Sudipto Chatterjee, Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, UC Berkeley
Sunday, Sept. 10, 3 p.m., BAM/PFA.
Panel discussion exploring interdisciplinary themes in the exhibition
Indian artists including Nalini Malini, and UC Berkeley professor of anthropology Lawrence Cohen, and professor of South and Southeast Asian Studies Vasudha Dalmia
Sunday, Sept. 17, 3 - 5 p.m., BAM/PFA.
Guided tours will be presented on Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. and selected Thursdays at 12:15 and 5:30 p.m. by young scholars of Indian art and South and Southeast Asian Studies.
The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional support is provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Koret Foundation, the Bernard Osher Foundation, Packard Humanities Institute, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Columbia Foundation, the Christensen Fund, the William H. Donner Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Gap Inc., other private foundations and corporations, and our individual donors and members. Major endowment support has been provided by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation and by George Gund III.
Gap Inc. is proud to support First Impressions: Free First Thursdays at BAM/PFA. For more information about Free First Thursday gallery tours and screenings visit our website at bampfa.berkeley.edu.
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Located at 2626 Bancroft Way, just below College Avenue near the UC Berkeley campus.
Gallery and Museum Store Hours:
Wednesday and Friday to Sunday, 11 to 5; Thursday 11 to 7. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
General admission is $8; admission for seniors, disabled persons, non-UC Berkeley students, and young adults (13 – 17) is $5; admission for BAM/PFA members, UC Berkeley students, staff and faculty, and children under 12 is free; admission for group tours is $3 per person (to arrange a group tour, call  642-5188). Admission is free on the first Thursday of each month.
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