As the India Art Fair (IAF) throws open its 10th edition, its antidote, The Irregulars Art Fair, conceived and curated by artist Tarini Sethi and designer Anant Ahuja, as an anti-art fair, will run parallel to it. A rundown factory in Delhi’s Khirkee village will host “weird and bizarre” art, by independent artists, which is often seen as fringe. Excerpts:
What are the cornerstones of this intervention?
Anant Ahuja: There is a serious under-representation of young artists at IAF and that’s why we decided to put the anti-art fair together. I thought the art space needed to be disrupted.
Tarini Sethi: We don’t have a problem with the art fair, we just think that they have been showing the same artists over and over again. There are hugely talented artists who can only show their work on social media because they don’t have the money to show at a gallery or the pull that a big artist does.
The anti-art fair also aims to animate spaces that were not originally meant to display art. Did this have a bearing on the work that was submitted?
TS: The most important part of this fair is to re-purpose an urban space. The building used to be a factory for furniture. The rooms of this building have been broken down and artists are taking over the spaces — rooms, bathrooms, and ceiling. As a result of the space, the artists too had to think out of the box a little bit and approach their work differently.
What kind of artwork can people look forward to?
TS: Of the 200-odd proposals we received, we handpicked 53 artists. There’s Natasha Sumant, who through her art project Gundi Studios, makes slow fashion and political media where she explores south Asian feminism, critiques stereotypes and patriarchy. There’s an artist working on a bathtub scene that deals with menstruation; there’s Barkha Gupta whose work corresponds to the organic form, juxtaposing geometry and textures. There are all kinds of artists, including people who don’t even call themselves artists and make art on the side as a hobby.
With this fair, you also intend to open up and create your own art market.
TS: In India, we’ve noticed that if it’s expensive, it’s valuable. Art coming out of a gallery is valued more than the art of a girl fresh out of art school whose work might be better than what a gallery is showing. I’ve never understood this and still don’t quite understand how to counteract it. With this, I hope we are able to create a market for ourselves.
AA: Economics has taken a backseat when it comes to artists, especially the young ones. We had a private preview for people who we thought might be interested in investing in this art. We’re helping artists price their work too, since many have never sold their work before.