artetc. news & views November 2011 issue is online.
This issue of artetc. news & views Magazine is on Cutting Edge Art. The December 2011 issue also would be a sequel to this one, focusing more on the individual artists who ideate and practice in this zone of art making.
When I was invited to guest edit these two issues, I was a bit surprised. Many who know my work as a critic and curator believe that I am totally against cutting edge art thanks to the severe critical approaches that I often take in my writings on such practices. Hence, my surprise was in fact on the surprise that the readers of this magazine would feel when they see my name as the guest editor of these two issues.
I have been an avid follower of the cutting edge practices in India mainly because I belong to that generation that really strived to move away from the modernist practices prevalent in India till 1980s. When we started off, it was not called 'cutting edge'. It was called post-modern art in general and installation art in particular. With the advent of new millennium, we, a few art activists in Delhi could forward ideas and forms incorporating the then fast growing technological feats. Dreams: Projects Unrealized (2003), The Twilight Zone of the Great Indian Digital Divide (2003) were a couple of projects that I had done when the galleries were really allergic to the very idea of installation or alternative art practices. Video Wednesday@ Gallery Espace (2008-09) was one project initiated and curated by me and it became the first ever year long project on video art in India.
Today, we have an entirely different art scene in place. The private galleries are now more open to alternative ideas and cutting edge art practices. When someone asked me over Facebook, is there is something called alternative art practice, I answered him saying that 'alternative art is the childhood of mainstream.' Today alternative has grown into mainstream and the galleries take a lot of pride in showcasing cutting edge practices.
I do not intend to mix up terminologies by randomly qualifying cutting edge with alternative and vice versa. Cutting Edge has been an alternative form for quite some time. Now it has gained currency amongst the mainstream. Still we lack in definitions and categorizations for cutting edge art practice. Perhaps, this fluid situation is very interesting and it is what makes it more appealing to an emerging generation of artists.
In this issue, my effort is to locate cutting edge practice within an critical perspective generated by institutions, collects, gallerists, critics and curators. Meena Vari writes about Srishti School of Arts and Design, which has been instrumental in bringing out many cutting edge art practitioners in India. While Prayas Anubhav delineates how a set of practitioners could generated a cutting edge discourse by altering an existing gallery space into a space of dialogues and processes, Premjish Achari looks at a larger arena called world political field and argues that cutting edge practices need not necessarily be located within the aesthetic context alone.
Nanak Ganguly, in his essay contextualizes cutting edge practices taking the individual examples of Chhatrapati Dutta, Chitrabhanu Majumdar, Sudarshan Shetty and so on and through a skilful analysis he establishes the fact that cutting edge art need not only address and use new technologies. Subhalakshmi Shukla in a series of small interviews with a few gallerists, vivifies how the Mumbai gallerists look at the whole debate on cutting edge art.
Lijo and Reni Jos, the architect-artist couple from Thrissur, through an auto interview mode explains how their practice cuts across disciplines and how they use sites as spaces of interventions within and without the discourse of architecture and its aesthetics. Swapan Seth is an avid collector of cutting edge art. In his inimitable style he tells the readers why he collects cutting edge art.
In my essay, I locate the definitional lack faced by cutting edge practices and I speak of it as an opportunity to expand the boundaries while I insist on the fact that this freedom comes with a heavy load of responsibility as cutting edge art could be nothing less than political art.
Have a wonderful time with this issue and do send your responses to the magazine
JohnyML (Guest Editor)
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