“…the world as such is only a fable. A fable is something which is told, having no existence outside the tale. The world is something which is told, an event that is narrated; it is therefore an interpretation. Religion, art, science, history, are so many diverse interpretations of the world, or rather, so many variants of the fable”.
-Twilight of the Idols. Friedrich Nietzsche.
GenNext which was conceived in 2006 to showcase young talents enters its eighth edition this October. Aakriti Art Gallery has always reached out to unexplored territories in contemporary art and traversed geographical boundaries. It has also taken enormous care through exhibitions like ‘Gen Next’, to put contemporary Indian and international art before the public in a balanced and coherent manner. These choices are concerned with the questioning aesthetic closure suggested by the now much finalities of natural and illusionistic space which have made up the edifice of modernism. Their subjects act out a drama of residual meaning. It should also be mentioned here that Aakriti has tied up with Khoj Kolkata to showcase and advance such practices and methods and has initiated a residency.
For many artists today, gesture is no longer embedded in the same pictorial and referential structures from which it drew its original authority. Rather than being the basis for a dynamic compositional system or a clearly labeled marker of the psyche, it has become increasingly autonomous. Broadly, the negotiated space of national/international, in a subliminal manner brought two kinds of subject positions in the Indian art world. First the confrontational and the heroic- outsider to the mainstream and its institutions who upheld a subversive revolutionary identity, and the second that verge on the solipsistic guise, whose reclusive symptoms manifest often through a disquieting expressionism by using the premises of abstractionist formalism. The ways in which the world has been (and is being) put under description has tempted us to mis-take such pragmatic heuristic for reality. The critique of this blindness has been done in order to keep the fictional – and future alive, to think the imaginaries of democracies and emancipation to come; to keep the excess in the frame. What serious man fears- the invasion of the fortress of essence by the contingent, the protean, and the unpredictable is what rhetorical man celebrates and incarnates.
There is no more reality that meets the eye, and then listens to what is produced in addition to exchange identifiable in the dialogue to keep the record of these invisible events. This exhibition shall keep the record of such events, self-effacing, but altogether real, a breaking or a wounding on the subject of breaking and wounding inscribed into the very body of this faithfully produced space.
That it consists of nothing independent of us and that we have to be loyal to, nothing we have to feel guilty about, no facts we have to find , no truths we have to respect, no problems we have to solve, no project we have to complete. It is clear that the past doesn’t exist ‘historically’ outside of historians’ textual , constructive appropriations, so that, being made by them , it has no independence to resist their interpretative will, not at least at the level of meaning. However irreducible, stubborn, painful, comic or tragic the past may have been, it only reaches us through fictional devices which invest it with a range of highly selective and hierarchical readings which are always subservient to various powers and interests(-Tony Bennet, Outside Literature, London, Routledge, 1990, pg 54)). Consequently, the past as a history always had been and always will be necessarily configured, troped, emplotted, read and ideologised to suit ourselves.
The images here refuse to disavow their own separation in a narrative splurge that reminds us that the “purity of narrative is more manifest than that of discourse” (-Gerard Genette). They create their own untimely rhythm which the practitioner records, in what we feel to be a coolly objective way. In the end it makes us seek his work out as if we needed it, and makes us cherish it, long after more documentary or photographic evidence of “our common suffering” has become a sad blur. Something of the same quality is transmitted- an oddness, a disturbing quiet. Whether this desperate humanism, sustained only by the sheer energy of despair, does not fail to recognize at least one major resource which exists, almost visibly, in the very fact of our language. Being would emerge at last through the image. While we some may see these as embodiments of the sublime, of truth, some would see this as search, or a struggle for truth. These are also generous works, for in them that struggle, those victories, those pleasures are made available to us.
New media artists showcased in earlier Gen Next exhibitions have always seen their practice as an attempt to make changes in the perception of the social and cultural future through their interaction with the audience. These new media artists set out to create an artwork that will instigate in the audience perceptions, understandings of their own creative potential. What they desire is a renewal of a visual language, and the return of its object to the richness and range of experience. We are at a crucial point here. The staging of the otherness and alteration that constitutes in these works, for us serve the essential aspects of a fictional universe. These artists were trained to be a painter or a sculptor or a printmaker but do not fear to go into an unchartered territory. Their art speak from the depths of the soul and reaches out to us to a world of infinitely rich theatre of their soul that weave and re- weave a potent spell for all of who dare to share in the drama. Their poise is remarkable, what this eminent group here accomplishes is a discreet, satisfying mélange, each of whom is confident and possesses a sprightly distinctive approach. The accounts and language that the participants offer are satisfying narrative styles and thus become a rare visual experience.
Each of the creative rubrics consider at the start a great career, in order that one moves not necessarily from the simplest to the most complex, and among the perspicacious lovers of the equivalence, in the form of legacy one practitioner leaves behind, between the visible and its nominal inverse. A continuous stream of idea, creativity and image but what concerns here is this absolute proximity, this co-precision, of the field that functions as a ground, and the figure that functions as a form, on a single plane that is viewed in close range proceeded with the somber, the dark, or the indistinct. A recurrent issue in the new media most often is the plight of the individual in a highly technological world. However, these works are ultimately optimistic although bristling with images of war, aggression, confrontation, displacement, there is a sense, achieved through ironic focus, that beyond lies something more hopeful but first it is necessary to overturn what we have and create the neutral space from which new things shall grow. A decade back artists began to combine image and text and over the last decade, these works have increased in subtlety and in the interplay of meanings.
The artists expressed such human concerns or ideological commitment but at the same time unwittingly make a political archive of their romantic legacy only in the process of their involvement in actual political struggles. Today’s practitioner consciously lived in his times and wished to engage with events rather than withdrawn from them, the times fraught with new as well as abiding traumas introducing a tantalizingly cerebral artist whose ideas hover just on the brink of obscurity. One traces humankind’s progress towards private property and avarice into a vast and bricoleur of images as if the enigmatic mind of Jorge Louis Borges had been fused with the majestic spirit of Diderot that speaks to contemporary practices continuing fascination with isolation and depersonalization of the autographic gesture that maintain a certain austerity, these paintings celebrate their artifice, and sweeping brushstrokes seem genuinely felt, warm and intimate. Today the approach is much more visual in its address than being polemical. His language shifts from spectacle to presence, a psychological space where there is absence in spite of presence; and that presence is the sole key to a state in which ratiocination of any kind is suspended- the inadequacy of the faculties is accepted and the viewer advances humbly towards faith. Some regard their work as independent markers in the world and the term ‘poetic’ which has frequently been applied to their work is received with less than rapture. This however, acknowledges the metaphorical content of their work, especially recent sculpture where the expression of ideas has shifted from the surface into its heart. In new media installations it is clear that, in itself, this is no more robust an enterprise than the thread of open dialogue which is also destined to remain unresolved with these works. It demonstrates with almost poetic vigour, just how fine and fragile these threads are.
The exhibition’s real importance is not only to challenge representation as ‘formidable tool of domination’ but to contribute to a redefinition of realism, abstraction and cultural representation. The exhibition also reveals that one of the important problems facing non-centrist (non-western) international culture in all parts of the world is the need, to come to terms with essentialist thinking in order to create new concepts of true open-ended fields of cultural construction.