There is never really a dull moment in art. Making it vibrant are festivals and fairs where creative synergies come together to propagate art and bring forth what is exciting, riveting and socially charged to the audience. This year too was no different. Apart from the regular shows and retrospectives that one immersed in, some shifts were seen in the art world. Those shifts might not have shaken up the community, but they did make news in the media. Here we are summing up Art 2017 for you without any embellishments.
India Art Fair: Since its inception in 2008, the homegrown art fair has grown strength to strength every year. Its popularity both in terms of business and footfall has been incredible, but the biggest news was announced late last year when the MCH group, the parent company that runs Art Basel, one of the leading international art fairs, took the co-ownership stake in the Fair. It was their first year. The change wasn’t visible on the surface but the fact that the Fair once again focused on relooking at South Asia and vernacular arts highlighted that the partnership is only going to strengthen and promote Indian indigenous art forms.
Kochi Biennale 2016: The three-month long arty carnival opened its doors to art lovers’ world over in December last year, but the reason for featuring it in this year’s list is simple – the shift. It came in the form of its curator Sudarshan Shetty’s vision of including other art forms like performing arts. Hence, the theme, ‘Forming in the Pupil of The Eye’ focused on the thought that there are multiple realities and multiple possibilities and the Mumbai-based artist succeeded in his curatorial vision as the Biennale offered immersive experiences, allowing people to be a part of it. There were not only performances by Anamika Haksar but also focus on the refugee crisis in installations like ‘Sea of Pain’ by Raul Zurita. Also, one of the biggest announcements by them came in the form of announcing Anita Dube as the curator for their 2018 edition, making it a gender-inclusive fair with equal opportunities to all and one.
Delhi Contemporary Art Weekend: Mostly the galleries are accused of working in isolation. But breaking the norm and coming together to show not only their camaraderie but also showcase their enviable collection and creative artists were DCWA. Six galleries — Exhibit 320, Gallery Espace, Latitude 28, Nature Morte, Shrine Empire and Vadehra Art Gallery had come together for the show which took place at Saffron Art gallery in the capital. Talking about the need to work together, Bhavna Kakar, director of Latitude 28, says, “What it is important to understand is that artists by nature tend to be creatures of isolation. They need the support of galleries to have their work shown and recognised. If the galleries also act in isolation, the art world would become insular and limit growth. An art community and, most importantly, an art market that deals in the contemporary that does not foster fraternity among galleries do not go very far, so the more galleries pull together, the better communities can be built and the more camaraderie is shown. To source new pools of collectors, we need every hand on deck. I strongly believe that success can only be found in collective striving.”
Serendipity Art Festival: This multi-disciplinary festival in its second edition did very well for itself. Consider this: The art-event, which did not see many visitors last year, crossed a footfall of over 50,000 in the 72 hours since its opening day. Now that is a good number indicative of the future. With creativities of seven disciplines coming together in India’s one of the colourful cities, this event holds many promises. This year, it was Ranjit Hoskote’s ‘Anti-Memoirs: Locus, Language, Landscape’ that caught our attention. He looked at displacement through the lens of memory and addressed how past continues to reshape our present. Participating artists included Veer Munshi, Zarina Hashmi and Ravi Agarwal. Interestingly, artist Veer’s papier-mache horse sculpture, Zuljanaha, signified the burden with which the horse is saddled and through this referred to the trauma and uncertainty.