Sunday, December 23, 2007

airplanes are mundane spaces. to be squashed in leg-crunching,backbreaking seats for several hours (that may not be a result of international travel but prolonged delays with lowcost airlines) is not something i look forward to.

but then every now and then (even if the most desirable man does not plant his bum on the seat next to mine) something makes the journey worth the torture.

this was one of them.
the airdeccan flight from delhi to goa- june 2006.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Seven years ago, my eldest cousin gave me a Furby.
He was called Domo.

I loved it yet hated it just as much.It was the ugliest thing I'd ever owned and I couldn't help myself but replace the batteries, when they ran out (which was ever so often)..Then we moved rooms and Domo vanished into cartons of things we would never need or of things we needed that we would never find.

Today, I found this image. Domo never looked better.

" You know you're too attached to Furby when you go camping and you fall off a cliff yelling 'Maybe! Me scared, ching!' and all your friends say 'Ching! Ching! Me sad, ching!')"
- Forest Jigglypuff

Sunday, December 9, 2007

back to campus, the old canteen, randomly painted silver pillars and dollop of dust laced memories

the old world theatre festival at the habitat centre every winter season is perhaps one of my favourite festivals on the calendar. i caught a few plays there last year and envied all those theatrebuffs who had plunged into theatre at college and managed to sustain their love for performance, so passionately. i remember calling ruchita and musing out loud about how much one could have done with KHEL, at nid. i must admit, it was the enthusiasm of the few like prachi, satwik,lekha,avinash,hitesh and a bunch of us that kickstarted khel....the first production was one arduous task and hats off to lekha for pulling it off.... much dwindled in the years that passed....while kel and i kept pushing the limits (and the authorities) with our little dancing escapades in the old canteen, theatre gathered dust with the many other dreams that the UTM stocked...every single time i walk out of a performance, satiated....i wish i could call hitesh and relive the time when setting a jingle to tune could render sleepless nights only to walk into class the next morning with a big grin of contentment avi and speak to him about shakuntalam and the those other unfinished works, monumental projects that would have lent a completely different sensibility to the idea of performance in a space like the nid campus, that exudes talent but most often shuns the latent few or simply turns its face away...kel and i have been mulling over an elective in movement and composition for a while brillliant would it be to spend fifteen whole days immersing oneself in a project of such is indeed unfortunate that we find ourselves unable to make that commitment,leave our other work behind and go back to campus..i point fingers to none other but myself, my non-committal stance that is newly imposed but allows me to dive into complacence sometimes.

to think about it...
i actually sat down to write about the play i saw today. it was called ‘shaw cornered’.
for a shaw buff, it was a pure delight.
however, at this moment, that’s all i can bring myself to say...nostalgia has done its bit to veer me off course.

glossary (for those uninitiated into the nid-ness)
ruchita- an exhibition designer, an extremely well read creature, scenographer, a dear friend.
KHEL- the performing arts ( club of NID. now..defunct.
prachi - a stupendous dancer, textile designer, one of my first friends on campus
satwik- a brand freak, he designs accessories for adidas in germany.talks nineteen to a dozen.magnificently manages to hear everything one never said (or never intended to)
avinash- the next big author (watch out!), theatre lover, the linguist in the extended family.
hitesh- the one man army who can take on any theatrewallah and put him to shame with his brilliant stage a married man with a very lovable wife. i’d have gotten her, if he didn’t :)
lekha- now actress.once a filmmaker. very very tolerant director.
kel- kelsang dorjee dongsar. dancer. and what a dancer!!!
UTM- under the mess.the despicable storehouse that’s eaten into the nid fabric of treasured memories and memorabilia.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

beyond the page-threeness of art

the image above
Bihzad, Sa'di’s Bustan, “The Seduction of Yusuf” 1488

having read the article by STEVEN HENRY MADOFF on October 7, 2007 in the New York Times, i put this together as a string of observations that have been running riot in my head.the article (in NYT) was appropriately titled : ART; India's Art, Booming and Shaking

i've tried to get most quoted facts right.
do point out gliches, if you see any.


I must say the article does justice to presenting a rather objective
stance to the indian art market today.Having observed the market for
almost a year now, I have atleast begun to understand its mechanism
and smaller holes in its fabric.In 2005, a Tyeb Mehta painting called
Mahishasura sold at Christies above the legendary million dollar
mark.The world took notice.There were profound declarations of how
indian art had arrived.If one observes carefully, the art market in
India has burgeoned multifolds in the last two years and indeed many a
gallery has sprung up in every corner of the larger cities.

Yes.The indian art investors have matured.The numbers have grown
almost exponenetially.The question however has morphed from whether we
accept the idea of art as an asset to whether we even understand half
of what we buy.The art dealers are making huge profits from client
consultation and dinners of meursault and pinikpikan.Everyone wants a
piece of the art pie and everyone who's anyone is attending the
auctions and openings.The understanding and development of the
aesthete is my concern.The art bubble may never burst. But it is
essential to understand how many actually appreciate what they buy vis
a vis how many perceive this as a liquid asset to be transacted
primarily for its value in the market.

The world has definitely opened its arms wide to India and the country
has reciprocated in full spirit.Anything that is indian or oriental is
placed on gilded pedestals.The chinese art market is spoken about in
every circle just as the Iris Chang and Gao Xingjian are widely
acclaimed within the literary tangent that oh so often metions Kiran
Desai and Jhumpa Lahiri. And just as 3251 more Indian authors today
write in English and manage to sell a decent number of copies that was
once the accomplishment of the lot of khushwant Singh and Vikram Seth,
the contemporary Indian art scene boasts of promising talents such as
Thukral and Tagra and creates royalty out of The Dodiya couple.My
statement is in no way derogatory of their efforts and work, for i
thoroughly appreciate the work done by Anju and Atul Dodiya and the
stance taken by Thukral and Tagra,with support from Nature Morte that
has done well to promote the artist duo.

It is indeed surprising to have seen stalwarts like Abindranath tagore
sell for a lesser price than some of the newer lot in auctions that
simultaneously take place in the virtual and physical realm.
Saffronart , with its online presence has built a strong client
network and brought a new perspective to a means of art investment.
Osian's - the first auction house in the country has been a forerunner
in various quarters that have instigated a positive thrust to the art
market.Art investment funds are running strong marathons as India Inc
pumps in its hard earned money into the next big promise.While most
investments are sound, many are not. The larger players stay (or
attempt to stay) clean and deal in money that is accountable.The IT
raids early this year however exposed the ugly undercurrent that has
had many investors and dealers jump in to make their big money and to
make it fast.
I was rather impressed by the statement an industry forerunner made to
the press as they hounded him while he lay miserably ill in hospital
during these raids(the raids had nothing to do with his illness). He
said that he welcomed the raids for it did bring to light that art was
finally regarded as a promising asset by the investors and the
government and that the raids would filter away those who had indulged
in what was unlawful.

Many smaller dealers shut shop or stayed away from the usual pr
activities that brought them into focus.Many investors stayed away
from their staple doses of moneylaundering escapades.

Art came into focus and how.

Today NDTV and many other channels on Indian television dedicate
regular segments to art.Page 3 and the last few pages of every glossy
magazine boast of candid pictures of artists-turned-fashionistas.
Everyone wants their children to attend the five-hundred-rupee-a-class
art appreciation courses that have sprung up in far corners of the
growing metropolises. Whether or not these courses actually even skim
the surface of Indian art is a question i have asked many a time.The
university art appreciation courses still veer towards western art and
aesthetic while briefly mentioning Indian art that is still explained
within the sphere of miniature paintings, the sculptures at khajuraho,
the ajanta frescoes, jamini roy and amrita shergill.What worries me
extensively, is how much we understand what we raise toast to and
whether our education system acknowledges the gaping hole that
completely sidelines art as a vocational route.The system is caught in
a paradox as we do not have the right infrastructure to build or
sustain art as a possible means of economic growth.The prices may rise
but the bubble is deemed to pop if the flying buttresses that hold the
structure together are not built in the first place.

A fine example of focussed suggestions that may help the cause of art
education in the country's curriculum are made in the book titled
'Towards ananda' by Shakti Maira.And though the book is veiled in
small portions by megalomaniacal observations by the artist, it does
make for an informative and comprehensive read.

Though one has simultaneously observed a relative dip in the art
market and art index over the past few months, it is true indeed that
though the art pieces may not sell for earthshattering rates that are
pushed by a handful of investors, the profiles and aggregate of
investors has definitely widened.This may also be related to the newer
trends in art.A painting by souza or gaitonde is bound to fetch alot
more moolah than an assemblage. More and more contemporary artists are
experimenting with various media and the investors are taking their
time to warm up to the newer exploits. Assemblages are the new
pollocks in the Indian art market.Artists like subodh gupta are
painting the town red having revived the technique or the ideology
once propogated by Braque, Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven and other
early twentieth century artists.

Though every art escapade today is applauded just as every performance
in the revered Prithvi theatre in Mumbai receives a standing ovation
regardless of the quality of production, one does hope that the work
and its chosen medium evolves out of an individual journey and not a
blindfolded trend following.

The article in NYT quotes artist shilpa gupta.''It doesn't matter
who's a star now,'' she says. ''It's so beautiful. You can hang out,
chill out. We all know each other, and everyone is doing very well,
and it's fantastic.''

It reiterates the buzz in the market at the moment and brings to the
forefront a concern that I have, having basked in this bacchinalic
revelery.Curatorial effort is perhaps one of the most important foci
of the art domain and there are only a handful of curators who are
capable of putting together a reasonable, well researched and thought
provoking exhibition together. This may be a side-effect of the big
leap that many an untrained eye has taken into this arena but it is
definitely gutwrenching to see how this particular profession is
shaping up.Anyone who has the money has bought him/herself a warehouse
to paint it white and run the gallery/art dealer marathon.And though
this does not undermine the quality of artwork produced in the
country, it does also flesh out some terribly-gone-wrong consequences
of self expression masquerading as art.

This does indeed question the authority one has to become judgmental
about art as a product. But I remain a firm believer of the fact that
however subjective art remains, there is good art and there is bad

And of course, every now and then...there is design,masquerading as
art.And vice versa.I recently covered the London Design week for an
indian design forum.And though I saw some splendid examples of work on
display over the fortnight, I did often wonder how fast and easily the
boundary between art and design was blurring.What was also interesting
to observe was how receptive the design community was to this
shift.This remains a longer piece for discussion that i shall refrain
from instigating,at the given moment.

Payal Wadhwa
New Delhi
Oct 16,2007

i speak the commoner's language
and write the wanderer's tale

- (me)

from a mathematician and a poetry addict

a dear friend sent this to me last winter.i found this while i was sorting my folders this evening.
there's lots of other stuff i found, so the blog shall bear the brunt of it.

anyway, my friend claims he's human.and calls himself rohan dutta.
i am convinced he has an android DAK-NAAM.

---By Dylan Thomas

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

the day of the POST avalanche

i've been trying hard to apply for my masters program.from the looks of it, i've now missed my first deadline.and sent them my TOEFL scores, nonetheless.
that was for MIT.
the next lot of options are varied

a major in history of art
a major in scenography
a masters in graphic design/media design
a major in visual culture

its a bad spot to be in
and to have 16 different SOP's

and everytime things get mad, its funny how i keep going back to this book and finding myself playing alice, ever so often.

Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked.
"Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat.
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

~Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland