Invite came three years ago,but govt failed to respond then
Venice Biennale,the most prestigious and the oldest International art festival,will finally have an Indian pavilion. The festival will be held next in June 2011. Work for securing the Indian pavilion would start next month at a meeting of all the Art Commissioners intending to participate in the festival. Well-known art critic,curator and commentator Mumbai-based Ranjit Hoskote will curate the work and represent India at the meeting.
The Indian artist community has been deeply critical of the government for failing to respond to an invitation to set up a pavilion received three years ago. Sources said that last time the Indian pavilion would have cost only about Rs 20 lakh,but the whole idea was lost in translation between the Ministry and the NGMA (National Gallery of Modern Art).
At present,the Culture Ministry is held directly by the Prime Minister. Director,NGMA,Rajeev Lochan said: I can only say that the idea of an Indian pavilion is very welcome and well-deserved at this point. Artist Bharti Kher said: Africa,India and some other countries were invited in 2007. Africa did it,Pakistan,Uzbekistan and even Palestine have pavilions. But our babu-led cultural establishment could not manage to even accept the invitation when the Indian art story was exciting people the world over. Art is at the bottom of our priorities.
Secretary,Culture,Jawhar Sircar and Chairman of Lalit Kala Akademi Ashok Vajpayee confirmed Indias participation this time. Said Vajpayee: We are very keen to enter this time and capitalise on the interest in Indian art. We will have at least Rs 1 crore for it this time though the exact cost of the pavilion is not yet known.
Sources said a reason why India has been unable to put the buzz around its art to some concrete purpose is the 11th hour culture. The Biennale requires planning for years,and India has never been methodical enough to respond in an organised way. Private galleries have,of course,been actively pushing Indian art.
Jyotindra Jain,whose show on tribal Indian art in Paris recently attracted throngs of visitors,said: Indian society and art could be at a turning point. Even at the recent Art Summit in Delhi,I saw thousands milling about,not just critics and fellow artists,but common people who were inquisitive. This was an eye-opener for me. We need to be able to draw common people to the art world. It is high time India showcased itself to its people and abroad and reflected the vibrant art scene here.
The artists showcased and the themes would depend on the theme decided by the Biennale for 2011. The art works chosen or commissioned would either be a response,a critique or counter-point to the theme the Biennale decides upon next year, said Vajpayee.
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