Interview with Geeta Kapur for Art and Deal Magazine

Interview with Geeta Kapur for Art & Deal Magazine (Issue 32)  – A revised version will be published on Afterall Online shortly


Natasha Ginwala: What are the possible reasons for a lack of institutional as well as extra-institutional discourse on curatorial practice in India thus far?

Geeta Kapur: Any discourse on curatorship would be located and developed within two kinds of spaces: the Museum (along with public galleries and independent exhibition venues), and the Academy (art history departments and art schools with ancillary or full-fledged courses in curating).

Since our institutional infrastructure is entirely underdeveloped – our museum structures are weak and art history departments are likewise impoverished – where could curatorial studies, or curatorial experiments have been nurtured? But I would like to elaborate on our institutional scene in a more particularized way and suggest that there is available some preparatory discourse that can be tapped for use in future curatorial projects. Since the 1960s there has been a sustained pedagogic understanding of modern and contemporary art at the Fine Arts Faculty in M.S. University, Baroda (and a somewhat later pedagogical renewal at Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan). The former began to alter the course of conventional art history by developing the field of visual culture wherein, potentially, the question of publics would have to be raised and thereby of curating – as an expositional activity in the public domain. This agenda, in a more complex configuration of disciplines and curricula is now being fulfilled by the School of Art and Aesthetics at JNU, Delhi.

Simultaneous to the opening up of contemporary art to the broader discursive frame of visual studies, there was a widening of the aesthetic experience as well. Artists began to travel extensively to international workshops and exhibition sites, art historians and critics began participating in international conferences where, besides expanded theory, questions of creative and critical curating were gaining prominence. Opportunities started emerging in the 1990s for Indian critic-curators to show Indian art internationally; the entry of foreign curators interested in exhibiting contemporary Indian art in their own contexts changed the scene further. They brought in transcultural criteria which had indirect impact on concepts and language of the younger artists, which in turn made private galleries in India start up a process of self-learning. Slowly, Indian galleries are entering the international circuit – first through auctions, now in art fairs and potentially through exhibitory collaborations.

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