Gitanjali Dang: Shikaar: The Hunt

Shikaar: The Safari 

(presented by Khoj International Artists’ Association & India Foundation For the Arts)

Venue: Select City Walk, Saket, Delhi

Dates: January 16 – 22, 2011

Curated by: Gitanjali Dang

Artists: Aastha Chauhan, Atul Bhalla, Ingrid Hora, Prajakta Potnis, Vishal Rawlley, Navjot and Cynthia Zaven

 

Curator's Statement

 

With Shikaar: The Safari one hopes to draw parallels between human race’s prehistoric preoccupation with hunting and gathering and our extant fascination with this subsistence method, albeit with a twist. By now we are all more than familiar with the not altogether new strain of the hunter-gatherer that prefers stalking malls and seeking his/her subsistence in its glittering array of goodies. Needless to say, contemporary art is not above this; a lot of it – be it the market or the museum; be it the artist or the curator – is indeed transfixed by the hunting-gathering tradition.

Delhi thrives and breeds in the shadow of the mall. In fact, the Khoj International Artists’ Association at Khirkee Extension too can’t escape the irresistible shadow of the seven, no less, nearby malls.

Shikar: The Safari values engagement over everything else. And what better place to
engage, than at an edifice where mall rats, art connoisseurs and treasure hunters, all blur into one another. The trick would be to involve each of these specimens in the hunt and in doing so amplify different aspects of the hunt.

These are just some preliminary thoughts that get immediately thrown into relief. But there’s a lot more at work. If anything this project is a Happening, which will shapeshift as it moves along.

For the treasure hunt, the artworks will be scattered across the mall site. Maps and clues that hint at the location of the artworks will be prepared and handed out to participants. The artworks/ treasures will remain at the exhibition site for the entire duration of the show. But the treasure hunt will commence only once each day at a previously decided time.

In order to recruit participants for the treasure hunt the word of the exhibition will have to be spread far, wide and convincingly. For this, different strategies such as networking platforms, recruitment officers etc can be adopted.

Oh, and, yes, following the conclusion of the exhibition and all the hunts it has spawned, a lot will be drawn, and one winner will be selected. The winner will be awarded an as-yet-undecided curatorial intervention.

 

Backstory:

 

Recently I was invited to write a piece for Take magazine. The ‘gallery, was the broad theme for the second issue of this Delhi-based magazine. In the article, This is Breaking News, I extended a seemingly dystopian mise-en-scène where on the island of Fanali, Takinguptheslack Consortium is conducting a 10,001 day long inquiry into that highly pedigreed breed know as the visual arts.

On each of the 10,001 days, a paper is presented and the hope is that from the strategies suggested in these papers a feasible plan for the resuscitation of the visual arts will emerge.

The papers at the heart of the debate will be presented by a pair.
The one half of which will be composed of personages as varied as game designers, linguists, topologists, physicists, philosophers, mathematicians, filmmakers, chemists, biologists, geneticists, palaeontologist, anthropologists, seismologist, computer engineers, virologist, animators, professors, academics, authors, volcanologist and so forth. **It would be significant to note, that artists, curators, gallerists, museum directors and their ilk have been disincluded from the Consortium because they have been accused of assassinating Late Style.**

The second half of the pair will feature the bureaucrat. And make no mistake the bureaucrat and only the bureaucrat will holds the reins.

In This is Breaking News, a bureaucrat and a respected topologist presented their paper.

Now then. What started off as a one-off text has during the course of my residency at Khoj transformed into a rather Borgesian undertaking. Keen on giving this project some latitude I have started adding new chapters to it. These chapters, about 5 in number, will comprise When Was Art (Part I). Hopefully Part I will be followed by 2, 3 and so on.

These chapters will randomly pick on a session at Fanali and present its case to our esteemed readership.

With these chapters one intends to probe the philosophies and the ontological statuses of art. The questions raised in each of these chapters are often of the old. Most theoretical manoeuvres we encounter regurgitate these same questions with alarming regularity and in doing so they reiterate their uroborus-like performance act.

It becomes significant then to raise them questions again, in an attempt to break their vicious circularity by hopefully providing new entry points into jaded debates.

The farsighted will observe in these chapters not dysptopian narratives situated in the farfuture but scenarios that are within touching distance. No special prognosis need be offered for this; a basic extrapolation will do just fine.

And to this meta-project of sorts is attached Shikar: The Safari. Although the exhibition stands on its own when seen through the lens of When Was Art it transforms into a plot for the revival of the visual arts. By virtue of being a tactic for the future but in fact occurring in our present, the exhibition also collapses the sense of distance.

                                                                                                                             Gitanjali Dang, 2011