Dr Emilia Terracciano
This course explores how art has become a tool for political expediency, reflection and intense scrutiny across South Asia. What do histories of colonial subjection and resistance tell us about ongoing struggles for and against globalisation in the realm of art?
In the aftermath of the 1990s, a period of economic and societal liberalisation, many South Asian countries opened to the world after experiences of Third World utopianism. It was a period of self-criticism and re-appraisal, during which globally engaged and diaspora artists felt that nationalist sentiment and modernist aspiration had fundamentally constrained their practice. Artists confronted new threats posed by the surge of global corporate monopolies, the growth of the militant right and challenges to secularism posed by fundamentalism. The tensions between the modern powerhouse economy, manual and indentured forms of labour and environmental exploitation became focal points of practice, as artists critically engaged with their predecessors.
We will consider artistic developments through a series of critical readings in the fields of photography, video and installation, following the upsurge of advanced technologies after the Cold War. The technoscape of the 1990s witnessed the emergence of artists, often inspired by hackers, human rights groups and environmental activists, who chose to operate beyond the gallery economy to create post-national, response-able communities.
Texts drawn from the fields of art criticism, political theory, post-colonialism and ecology, by Geeta Kapur, Frantz Fanon, Vijay Prashad, Sarat Maharaj, Nira Wickramasinghe, Saloni Mathur, TJ Demos and Vandana Shiva, among others, will be used. We will be looking at the works of such artists as Sunil Janah, Nasreen Mohamedi, Vivan Sundaram, Amar Kanwar, Anand Patwardhan, Ravi Agarwal, Simryn Gill, Shiraz Bayjoo, Prabhavathi Meppayil, Sheela Gowda and Naeem Mohaiemen. The course is structured around gallery visits, case studies, artists’ visits, thematic seminars and text-based discussion classes.