Museums Without Borders

Published on Nov 09, 2022 05:17 PM IST

Over the past two years, the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) has been facilitating conversations between museums and their collections across physical and geographical boundaries, in a video series called Museums Without Borders

Woman in the Blue Room, KG Subramanyan, 1981, Painted glass, India Image courtesy: Museum of Art & Photography (MAP)
Woman in the Blue Room, KG Subramanyan, 1981, Painted glass, India Image courtesy: Museum of Art & Photography (MAP)
ByHT Brand Studio

Did you know that Gerrit Rietveld’s iconic Red and Blue Chair from 1918 is distinctively similar in form to the Pida chairs of Rajasthan? Rietveld was a Dutch furniture designer and architect, associated with the De Stijl movement founded in the Netherlands. On the other hand, the Pida chairs date back to centuries ago and are till date common to households across India, and especially in Rajasthan.

How is it that these chairs, separated by geography and time, share such a striking similarity in design? Were artisans designing the angular, low-seated chairs with some similar interplay of planes and volumes in mind? It is only in their juxtaposition, elaborated upon in an episode of the Museum of Art & Photography’s original series Museums Without Borders, that one can understand the cross-cultural connections that seemingly exist beyond time and space.

Breakfast, Henri Matisse, 1920, Oil on Canvas, France, Image courtesy: Museum of Art & Photography (MAP)
Breakfast, Henri Matisse, 1920, Oil on Canvas, France, Image courtesy: Museum of Art & Photography (MAP)

Over the past two years, the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) has been facilitating conversations between museums and their collections across physical and geographical boundaries, in a video series called Museums Without Borders. Each collaboration features two artworks in dialogue with one another: one from the MAP collection and the other from the partner museum, and their juxtaposition is explored by curators, discussing the connected elements of the objects in a short-video format.

More often than not, the exploration of histories, techniques, mediums and visual motifs of these objects, when paired together, brings forth unexpected narratives. “It encourages museums to reach out to each other and share objects, skills, and ideas in a spirit of collaboration that the new world demands of us,” explains the Director of MAP, Kamini Sawhney. “Museums Without Borders looks to open a conversation between objects from different cultures or geographies that provide us with a new understanding of what they once meant or what they could be.”

Thelatest episode of the series explores the imagery of women at leisure in their homes, a recurring motif in artworks across cultures. Produced in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Women in the Interior pairs a painting by KG Subramanyan with Henri Matisse’s thematically kindred artworks. In construing the artists’ professional histories, creative influences and the iconography in the artworks themselves, a few commonalities unique to the comparison are unearthed, from the women's postures to their familiarity to the interior setting. A distinctive point of similitude that the curators Riya Kumar and Matthew Affron arrive at in the episode is the incorporation of floral motifs by both artists in their depictions of interiority, allowing them to speculate this convergence further.

Another important objective for this series is to recognise South Asian art and culture on a global stage. “A primary goal for Museums Without Borders is to also reach out to more museums within India and South Asia. We want to urge our audiences to look at, understand and appreciate the treasures that are housed within our country, instead of only focusing on the major museums of the world”, explains the Founder of MAP, Abhishek Poddar.

MAP has partnered with over 20 international art institutions for Museums Without Borders, like the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, British Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, The Morgan Library and Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, Vitra Design Museum and the National Gallery Singapore, to name a few. In the upcoming year, they intend on further extending the geographical reach of these collaborations. This series promotes a global exchange of knowledge sharing through artworks, and does so in a way that piques the interest of people across a spectrum of art knowledge. With a new season planned for the upcoming year, there is a gripping assortment of ways to discover new perspectives and challenge existing assumptions about art we know and love.

Museums Without Borders collaborations are released on a monthly schedule. This first-of-its-kind collaborative initiative is developed by MAP and supported by FedEx. The series can be found on the Museum’sYouTube channel as well as theirwebsite, and each video is accompanied with subtitles and Indian Sign Language interpretation.

Disclaimer: This article is a paid publication and does not have journalistic/editorial involvement of Hindustan Times. Hindustan Times does not endorse/subscribe to the content(s) of the article/advertisement and/or view(s) expressed herein. Hindustan Times shall not in any manner, be responsible and/or liable in any manner whatsoever for all that is stated in the article and/or also with regard to the view(s), opinion(s), announcement(s), declaration(s), affirmation(s) etc., stated/featured in the same.

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