By Siddhi Jain
New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANSlife) The India Art Fair (IAF), having become quite a rage in the South Asian art world in just slightly over a decade, is now gearing up for its 2020 edition. A conversation between IANSlife and IAF Director Jagdip Jagpal reveals the undercurrents of Indian art that go into its making.
Q. While we see a lot of Indian art at auctions and exhibitions, a marketplace of art is what the India Art Fair sought out to be. Your opinion on the current Indian art ecosystem.
It is a responsibility of everyone who constitutes the art ecosystem to ensure that it does not lose its vibrancy. Having been around for a decade, we can confidently say that the Indian art scene has been, on the whole, broadly collaborative. There is a sense that it has been built from the grassroots, which is not solely dominated by the market. In the past year itself, several new institutions like Bihar Museum, Kolkata Centre for Creativity and Arvind Indigo Museum opened their doors to the public. Others, including Kiran Nadar Museum of Art and the Museum of Art and Photography (MAP) announced their plans for a new building in Delhi and Bengaluru, respectively.
This steady increase in non-commercial initiatives is laying a foundation for longer-term development and sustainable growth of the Indian art market, which is maturing at the rate of 7 per cent each year.
Q. Apart from artists, do you see enough Indians as museum professionals, curators and art writers on the world stage?
India has produced incredibly talented individuals who are at the forefront of exhibition-making today, whether it is Natasha Ginwala pushing for South Asian representation at the prestigious Documenta 14 and other exhibitions in Germany; Madhuvanti Ghosh curating stellar exhibitions of art and artists from the region at The Art Institute of Chicago or a historian like Naman Ahuja bringing international exhibitions to India.
There is, however, still a long way to go before we can make a mark on the world stage or even begin to challenge the West. This is, in part, due to a large skills gap in the current generation of professionals.
Q. How can we boost India’s museum and gallery-going culture? How can we make the public engage in a broader range of art than just statues, graffiti and public murals?
First, we need to question the way we speak to and engage with our audiences. Are our museum or gallery exhibitions able to communicate a compelling message that touches, inspires or even changes a visitor’s perspective? How are they creating experiences that are both captivating and culturally relevant? Are they using new technologies to transform passive audiences into active content generators? On the whole, how are they taking these stories to the people?
At the fair, we are committed to showing to the best we can, whether it is putting out exciting art in exhibitor booths or developing a strong programme of artist talks, curated walk-throughs, performances and films to attract a public audience. To complement the onsite experience, we have a digital marketing strategy to provide our audiences an accessible way to engage and navigate the region’s art scene.
Q. A little about IAF 2020.
A. Visitors can expect to see an incredible range of art presented by over 70 Indian and international galleries and institutions – a large portion of which are new commissions that have rarely or never been shown before.
Alongside the art on display, the fair’s expanded programme will have something for everyone – from artist talks and performances to collector masterclasses and walkthroughs – and will commence a week before the fair officially opens. After its success last year, we are also increasing the bookshop in size to bring the best selection of publications on the South Asian modern and contemporary art from renowned classics, self-published books by artists to zines.
Beyond the fair grounds, we want to bring Delhi alive with our new IAF Parallel programme and make it easier for visitors to find out what’s on and get to know the city in greater depth.
Our programme, thus, will feature exciting exhibitions and events in leading galleries and museums taking place throughout the year. I hope these new initiatives will help in discussing, contextualizing and promoting contemporary art amongst local and international audiences visiting the fair.
(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at [email protected])