- DIFF 2012: Art Exhibition
The opening day of DIFF 2012 coincided with the conclusion of an international artists’ workshop held in Dharamshala from 20 October to 1 November. Jointly organised by White Crane Arts & Media and Delhi-based Khoj International Artists’ Association, the workshop was an art and cultural interface between international and India-based artists with local artists and residents of Dharamshala. It addressed issues of identity, culture and politics while promoting inter-cultural exchange. The artists were invited to engage with the social and political history of Dharmashala and encouraged to interact with the local community.
Five artists from Dharamshala shared a common platform with five artists from various parts of India and five international artists. They artists participated in dialogue and discussions, exchanged ideas, methods and approaches, and explored alternative means of visual expression. On 1 November, at the end of the workshop, an Open Day was organized with projects created during the workshop exhibited in public.
ARTISTS BASED IN DHARAMSHALA
Bhuchung D. Sonam
Poet/writer, Bhuchung D. Sonam was born in Tibet. In exile, he studied at Tibetan Children’s Village School in Dharamsala, a small town in Northern India. He completed his further studies from St. Xavier’s College, Amedabad, and later in the US. He has published three volumes of poetry books and edited Muses in Exile: An Anthology of Tibetan Poetry. His new book Yak Horns: Notes on Contemporary Tibetan Writing, Music, Film & Politics was published in 2012. Bhuchung is a founding member of TibetWrites, a writers’ circle that publishes the creative work of Tibetans.
His permanent address was stolen.
Karma, 38, is a Thangka painter and contemporary artist, residing in Dharamshala. Born an orphan-refugee, Karma was raised and educated in Tibetan Children’s Village School, Dharamshala. He received his formal thangka painting training at the Centre for Tibetan Arts and Crafts in Dharamshala (now part of Norbulingka Cultural Institute) under the guidance of renowned thangka painter master Rinzin Paljor, who was one of the main Potala court painters in Tibet, and while in exile continued working directly for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. After graduating in 1993, Karma has mainly worked as an independent artist on commissions from individuals, monasteries and schools and has devoted much of his time and energy to various political activities within the Tibetan community in exile, as well as to the study of the diverse Tibetan Thangka painting styles and contemporary art forms.
INDIA BASED ARTISTS
Aradhana Seth, Goa
Aradhana Seth has given homes made from makeshift material on makeshift land a sense of permanence. Working as a production and set designer for more than a decade, Aradhana Seth has translated her vision into films, both Indian and international, period and contemporary, working on movies such as The Bourne Supremacy, Don: The Chase Begins and The Darjeeling Unlimited. As photographer, designer and film-maker, Seth has researched, archived and investigated both architectural history and popular culture, together with the personal and public trajectories of both maker and made.
Her exhibition, Everyone carries a room about inside, an installation including a series of paintings and photographs at Chemould Prescott Gallery, Mumbai, in November 2011 was Aradhana Seth’s first take on ‘space’ within the context of contemporary art. Though modern technology has been at her fingertips, she has always been drawn towards the rawness and elementarily of plain paint and metal. For her, paint and metal are integral components of the common and the uncommon object: the street signboard and the Golden Gate Bridge, wherein the use of these materials somehow dissolves the virtual divide between the outsider and the insider, the élite and the common.
Ayisha Abraham, Bengaluru
Ayisha Abraham lives and works in Bangalore, as an installation artist and short filmmaker. She studied painting in India and the United States, before becoming an experimental filmmaker and installation artist. She works at the Srishti School of Art, Design, Technology, as a visual arts consultant and is a member of the BAR1 (Bengaluru Artists Residency).
Her work has been shown at numerous international exhibitions and festivals including Artists Space, Tribeca, New York (1992); Franklin Furnace, New York (1993); Japan Foundation, Tokyo, (1997); British Council, New Delhi and across the UK, (1998); Eicher Gallery New Delhi,(1998); Galleryske, Bangalore (2003); ARS Electronica, Linz (2005); Mostra Internacional de Cinema,Sao Paolo (2008) ; and the Serpentine Gallery, London (2008/2009). Kunst Museum, Bern (2007/8) ; Kashi Art Gallery, Kochi(2009) ; Tao Art Gallery, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo, Norway ( 2009); Mumbai, 2009; Samuha Artists collective(2010). Heart, Herning Museum of Contemporary Art in Herning, Denmark (2010). Max Mueller Bhavan,Bangalore; Coimbatore (2010) ; Caixa Forum, Barcelona (2010) ; Pompidou Center (2011) ; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Fransisco), Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, (Beijing).
Sheba Chhachhi, New Delhi
With women’s rights and environmental degradation at the core of her work, Sheba Chhachhi transforms contemporary issues into lens based works of art. Chhachhi began in the 1980s, both activist and photographer, documenting the women’s movement in India. By the 1990s, Chhachhi had moved to creating collaborative staged photographs, eventually turning to large photo based multimedia installations. Chhachhi creates both site-specific public art and independent works, immersive experiences through which she articulates a range of concerns, including gender, ecology, violence and visual cultures. Her work has a particular emphasis on the link between the social and the mythic and the recuperation of personal and cultural memory.
Chhachhi lives and works in New Delhi and has exhibited widely in India and internationally.In the last year(2011-2012) she has held the solo exhibitions: Evoking The Pause, Bhau Daji lad Museum, Mumbai, Luminarium, Volte Gallery, Mumbai, participated in Roundtable,9th Gwangju Biennale, Chimera, The Collectors Show, Singapore Art Museum, India!, CCB Museum, Rio de Janerio , Shadow Lines, Biennale Jogja XI, Indonesia , Signature Art Prize, Singapore Art Museum, as well as presented two public art projects – Black Waters Will Burn, Project Y, Yamuna River, Delhi and Bhogi/Rogi (Consumption/Disease), an interactive video intervention created at Khoj studios, at Express Avenue Mall,Chennai.
Tejal Shah, Mumbai
Tejal Shah (b. 1979) is a multi-disciplinary artist primarily working with video, photography, performance, sound and installation. Her work, like herself, is feminist, queer and political. She has exhibited widely in museums, galleries and film festivals. Recent presentations include Paris-Delhi- Bombay…, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2011, Where Three Dreams Cross, White chapel Gallery, London, 2010; and Lost and Found – Queerying the Archive, Nikolaj Contemporary Art Center, Copenhagen, 2009. Recent solo exhibitions include The Incidental Self, Barbara Gross Gallery, Munich, 2011; and There is a spider living between us, La Centrale, Montreal, 2011. Her work is in the collection of Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi and several other private collections in India and broad. Most recently, Tejal participated in dOCUMENTA (13) with her new multi-channel video installation, Between the Waves. The work was composed of performative film, text, animation and the spacialisation of sound.
In 2003-4, she co-founded, organised and curated along with Natasha Mendonca, Larzish – India’s premier International Film Festival of Sexuality and Gender Plurality. Shah grew up in central India, Chhattisgarh, eventually moving to Bombay in 1995. She holds a BA in photography from RMIT, Melbourne, and has been an Exchange Scholar at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Zuleikha Chaudhary, New Delhi
Zuleikha Chaudhary is a director and lighting designer from New Delhi in India. She has made a name for herself as a director with stage productions of Ibsen, Brecht and Heiner Müller, among others. In addition, she has worked on several installation projects and has received several prizes for her work. Zuleikha Chaudhary has realized light installations such as Description of a Picture, based on text by Heiner Muller, (commissioned by the British Council) in 2005, and Propositions: On Text and Space II, based on Roland Schimmelpfennig’s Vorher/Nachher, (commissioned by the Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai and New Delhi) in 2011. She was Artist in Residence at Khoj in 2003 and 2010 as well as in Brussels in 2008 (Residency and Reflection). On Seeing, based on a text by Haruki Murakami, was a site-specific installation and performance, presented at Khoj Studios in 2008, at different theatre festivals, and at Essl Museum, Vienna in 2010.
Other selected site-specific installations and performances include Roland Schimmelpfennig’s Arabian Night 2006/2007, Siddhartha, based on Hermann Hesse 2005/2006, supported by Max Mueller Bhavan, Goethe Institut and The Mahabharata Project for the Prague Quadrenniale in 2003.
Aman Mojadidi, Afghanistan
The Afghan artist Aman Mojadidi’s practice is based on his personal experiences and his curatorial and academic research in cultural studies. Having grown up as an American citizen, in a world that is simultaneously globalized and fractured, in his work Mojadidi combines traditional storylines and postmodern narrative strategies to approach themes such as belonging, identity politics, conflict, the push to and resistance against modernization. Continuously exploring what he calls the “geography of self,” Mojadidi travels through both mental and physical landscapes, intentionally blurring and merging the lines between them, as well as between fact and fiction, documentation and imagination.
He has exhibited his work in galleries, independent spaces, and cultural centers in New York City, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cairo, Mumbai, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dubai, Kassel for dOCUMENTA (13), and Kabul.
Anna Dabrowska, Poland
Anna Dabrowska, (born 1973, Poland), lives in London. Her work is often socially engaged and uses participatory and collaborative methodologies. She’s interested in the impact that bringing together of different registers of time and space and individual and collective identities might have on each other when re-configured in a context of new work.
Working in a variety of media: photography, installation, text, sound, and video, Anna Dabrowska has exhibited in solo and group shows in the UK and internationally since 2001. She is the winner of the Observer Hodge Photographic Award, 2003 for Freedom Is A Big Word series; was selected for the National Portrait Gallery Photographic Portrait Award, 2007 and was awarded The Welcome Trust People Award, 2008-11 for Mind Over Matter, a project about brain donation and dementia. As a ‘SPACE’ artist in residence at Arlington 2010-2012, she run the Creative Space programme for homeless men and women and developed a series of work questioning stigmas surrounding homelessness in the UK: Arlington Portraits (2010-2012), which was recently shortlisted for ‘Artists Wanted’ award and exhibited in Times Square, New York and at Arlington, London.
She has taught and facilitated workshops for participatory photography projects in the UK and Internationally (SPACE, Photo Voice, World Vision, United Response, CAST, University of Luton, U-Turn Project) and has also been a Lecturer at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford (2007-10), and a visiting lecturer at Goldsmiths College, University of London since 2006.
Erdenebayar Monkhor, Mongolia
Monkhor Erdenebayar (“Bayar”) was born in 1968 in Baruun-Urt, Mongolia. He had a formal art education at the Fine Arts College and Fine Art Institute, Ulaanbaatar, from which he graduated in 1987 and 1996 respectively. His art education embraced two very different methodologies: the Soviet and a more Western-oriented curriculum. The former taught a rigid, propaganda- style art; the latter, a freer, more personal expression.
The horse is central to the cultural and spiritual world of Mongolians and one of their most important art motifs, even from the earliest rock art. For Monkhor Erdenebayar the horse has long been the main subject of his painting. Through this, he not only expresses his love for the animal but also uses it as a metaphor for Mongolian national identity and as a way of exploring his own childhood memories. Through the diverse ways in which Bayar uses the horse in his works, he hopes to reflect the changes observed amongst the people of Mongolia as also the transformation from nomadic to urban life in today’s Mongolia. His wooden sculptures and reliefs also embody the same spirit.
Bayar has exhibited in solo shows in Thailand, 2007 at Teonamfah gallery; Singapore, 2007 at the Artrium MICA Building; in Mumbai, India, 2008 at Studio Napean gallery; in Phnom Penn, 2009 at Teonamfah gallery; in Bangkok, 2009 at Teonamfah gallery and in Hong Kong, 2010 at Schoeni art gallery.
Munkhtsetseg Jalkhaajav, Mongolia
Born in 1967 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Jalkhaajav Munkhtsetseg (who is known by the name Mugi) is one of Mongolia’s leading contemporary artists. Mugi has been working on art works that are inspired by the female anatomy with references to Mongolian concepts. Her work also reflects her childhood experiences, traditional Mongolian medicine, the wisdom of folk tales and legends, as well as the healing power of nature. Interested in the natural healing processes of the human body, she believes that animals support the human spirit and the physical body with the power to cure people and that
humans can repair damage to their spiritual body through Shamanism and Buddhism, and to their physical body through animals, plants and minerals. These beliefs have been a source of inspiration of her work. She wishes to create beauty – a beauty that transforms itself into power and finds healing to be such. She works on oil painting, collage on paper , silk collage on raw canvas , bronze and fabric sculpture.
Currently, she is interested in exploring works that deal with understanding the presence of air in human body system, the idea that air is the main force in the human body responsible for all human movements such as walking, thinking, dreaming, talking and giving birth.
Mugi has exhibited her works in solo shows such as The Silence of Healing at the Edge of the World at Teonamfah Gallery in Bangkok ,Thailand in 2009; Earthbound at Schoeni art gallery, Hong Kong in 2012; and From the Heart at Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in 2012. She has also recently participated in Women In-Between: Asian Women Artists 1984-2012 in Fukuoko Asian Art Museum 2012.
Tsherin Sherpa, Nepal
Tsherin Sherpa was born in 1968 in Kathmandu, Nepal. He started studying traditional Tibetan thangka painting at the age of twelve under the skillful guidance of his father, Master Urgen Dorje, a renowned thangka artist from Ngyalam, Tibet. After six years of intense formal training, Tsherin went to Taiwan to study Mandarin and computer science. Three years later, he returned to Nepal and resumed working with his father in numerous projects that included painting thangkas and monastery murals.
In 1998, Tsherin left for the United States where he worked as a thangka artist and instructor at Buddhist centers in California. He is now resident in California and his current work expresses contemporary concerns using a variety of techniques including traditional Thangka. Today, Tsherin’s work continues the use of traditional Tibetan techniques and iconography but in the context of dealing with the concerns of the modern world. His Spirit series follows a superhero-like entity halfway between deity and human form. By allowing this character to learn and adapt to his surroundings, the sacred and profane are no longer kept in separate worlds but intermingle amongst us all in everyday life.
Tsherin has held fellowships and residencies at institutions such as Asia Alive at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and The Rubin Fellowship at Vermont Studio Center, USA. He has participated in a number of group exhibitions in the US, UK and Asia.
Tsherin’s first solo show is currently exhibiting at Rossi & Rossi gallery in London, UK.
Kesang Lamdark, Switzerland
Kesang Lamdark was born in Dharamsala in 1963. He was adopted by a Swiss family, grew up, and was educated in Switzerland. After apprenticing and working as an interior architect in Switzerland for four years, he went on to study art at the Parson’s School of Design in New York, followed by an MA in visual art at Columbia University, NY. As a Tibetan raised in Switzerland,Lamdark is continually searching for an appropriate cultural space for himself. Having long felt like an outsider, he was eventually able to reconnect with his heritage, and his displaced, multi-cultural upbringing became a driving force behind his art.
As an artist, he combines unusual materials, from hair to plastic to beer cans and nail polish. Ultimately, his life and work focus on bringing together the unfamiliar. He was shown to great acclaim as one of the artists in Tradition Transformed; Tibetan Artists Respond, at the Rubin Museum of Art, New York.
CRITIC IN RESIDENCE
Latika Gupta has a BA in History from St. Stephen’s College, a BFA in painting from the College of Art and an MA and MPhil from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, where she is currently studying towards a PhD in art history. She has received fellowships from the Charles Wallace India Trust and the Nehru Trust for independent research projects on Buddhist art and performative rituals. Latika has worked on documentary films and photography projects tracing the history of Indian art and as a curator at the National Gallery of Modern Art and at Khoj International Artists’ Association, besides curating independent exhibitions with artists from India and Pakistan. Latika writes as a critic for Art India Magazine and has also published essays in Marg magazine. Current projects include a touring exhibition of contemporary art drawn from the British Council and Arts Council collections, that will travel to Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Bangalore in 2013.
Her specific research interests are in the area of Tibetan and Himalayan art and ritual practices, focusing on questions of politico-cultural identity. Her MPhil dissertation entitled On Sacred Ground: Constructing an ancient tradition for Tibetan Buddhism in Spiti examined these questions through the study of a large-scale performative Buddhist ritual in a monastery in Spiti.