It’s was a proud moment for the Indian art circuit when for the first time India participated in the Venice Biennale. Managed by Lalit Kala Akademi, the Indian pavilion saw artists such as Gigi Scaria, Zarina Hasmi, Praneet Soi, Sonal Jain and Mriganka Madhukailya. This year, sadly we don’t have a pavilion at the Biennale, that opened on May 30, but we do have Delhi artists keeping the ball rolling at the prestigious art event.
Names include Subodh Gupta, Dayanita Singh, Prabhavathi Meppayil and Samar Singh Jodha. While Gupta is presented by the London based gallery — Hauser and Wirth, Jodha, on the other hand, has a solo show titled Outpost that has blown up photographs of living spaces created out of containers by miners in the northeast, to comment on global culture.
From the oil rig workers in Nigeria, to Romanian and Polish workers in London, from the soot pickers of Central America to the migrant workers from Kerala in the Gulf, Jodha has, over the past 20 odd years, been exploring stories people on “the fringes of society.”
So is the work at Venice Biennale a continuation of the same? “Yes and no,” says the 47-year-old artist. “Yes for the fact that the habitat of migrant workers in India’s north east was the starting point; the project evolved into themes about producing art in world that is getting culturally homogenised and art is increasingly framed by commercial interests,” says Jodha.
The Biennale in Venice, Italy, has been hosted once every two years for the past 106 years and displays contemporary art projects from all over the world. “It is a real joy because Venice is the oldest and most prestigious art fest and you get to see some of the world’s best contemporary art here. Unfortunately India has had very little presence here,” adds Jodha.