Thursday 1 January 2015

First project of MOG. ‘Janela’ is an exhibition that intends to stir up histories- Subodh Kerkar

Art is not just my profession but the very breath of my life. My life is inseparable from the creative quests which have nurtured me for the last three decades. Creativity is immensely a private activity, yet Art needs company. Art craves for an audience. Art cannot sing in a desert. I felt the need of going beyond my personal artistic adventures and work towards creating a vibrant art scene in Goa.  The idea of the ‘Museum Of Goa’, ‘MOG’ was born out of this pursuit. An endeavor to create a unique space for Arts, MOG will bring together artists, curators, collectors, art enthusiasts, educationists, students and audiences from all walks of life. It will not only be a space for exhibitions, but also organize workshops, residencies, lectures, talks and art courses. 

MOG will embrace a universal perspective and provide a platform to Indian contemporary artists to showcase their works and connect them with international art milieus. MOG is envisioned less as a repository of objects and more as a laboratory of ideas, where various art forms – painting, sculpture, photography, music, theatre, design, video art, films, installations and many others are in constant dialogue with each other. Housed in a 1038 square meters space, designed by Architect Dean D’Cruz, MOG is situated on the Pilerne Plateau in North Goa, not too far from Calangute. ‘Janela – Migrating Forms and Migrating Gods’ is the first project of MOG.  ‘Janela’ is an exhibition that intends to stir up histories. To dig into the recesses of historical archives, memory and celebrate the ‘connectedness’ of cultures. The waves that wash the shores of the west coast of India have not only carved and shaped rocks, but also ideas, dreams and narratives. The ocean has acted as a medium of intercontinental cultural diffusions.  The word for a window in both Konkani and in Malayalam is adopted from the Portuguese language. It is ‘Janela’. The two languages share hundreds of Portuguese and Arabic words.  ‘Janela’ is an attempt to peep into the shared histories of Goa and Kerala and also explore what historians A. G. Hopkins and Christopher Bayly described as Proto-globalization.  It is also an endeavor to narrate history through the contemporary idiom.

I am grateful to Valentina Gioia Levy for agreeing to curate the exhibition. She has worked hard to give a real international perspective to the show.  

I must thank Yudhishthir Raj Isar (Professor of Cultural Policy Studies – The American University of Paris) and Els Reijnders of The Van Gogh Museum for their valuable advice and guidance.                                                
I am thankful to the Kochi Biennale Foundation for giving us a collateral status.
Subodh Kerkar
MOG, Museum of Goa                                                                                                                                         


Recent work ‘Janela’ is an exhibition at  Kochi Biennale Foundation

When I met Subodh Kerkar for the first time, last summer, he had already begun to work in the exhibition ‘Janela’ that wanted to bring together mainly Goans but also some international artists. He invited them to reflect on some issues, which revolved around the history of the state of Goa and its relationship with Kochi. When he asked me to curate this exhibition, my first curatorial concern has been now to take up a project already started, respecting its original philosophy, but at the same time, by giving to it my own curatorial cut. I liked the idea that the started point with which Kerkar had challenged the artists was a linguistic element, the Portuguese word ‘Janela’ that means window.

I had already dealt with the question of the message as an expressive medium in artistic practice of Yoko Ono and previously I had explored the relation between the linguistic and the pictorial sign, and the act of writing as performative act in the work of the Canadian artist Carl Trahan. Personally, I have considered the word ‘Janela’ as a starting point with a strong potentiality for exploring new perspectives in the relationship between art and language, image and sign, visual representation and meaning.
Recent work by Sweety Joshi ‘Janela’ is an exhibition at  Kochi Biennale Foundation

After that, the first step has been to analyze Goa’s art scene and understand how to relate to the wider context of international artistic practices.I didn’t know the most part of the artist to whom Subodh Kerkar asked to send a proposal. In many cases, it was extremely difficult to find some information about their works and sometimes I had nothing but few biographical elements for evaluate the proposals they submitted to me. In some cases I found myself in the very uncomfortable position of having to judge an artist on the basis of a single as I already said, my concern was primarily to find common threads that could have been able to open a direct dialogue between local and international artistic practices and researches. That is why, although I certainly took into account local specificities, my selection is the result of what can be considered as a necessary adherence to current global trends.

Considering Subodh Kerkar’s input, I thought that one of the most interesting topics to explore was the issue of ‘migration of visual forms’ seen as the recycling of figurative archetypes in different cultural contexts. This theme has its roots in the history of the past and links with the migration of people and ideas across space and time. In particular, I wanted to pay a special attention to the images connected with the transcendent, that have always had a great importance in European and Indian past art. I particularly concentrated on the question of the sacred image in contemporary times, and questioned its redefinition and the role that it might have today in the context of artistic research, focusing of identity, historical, socio-political and / or anthropological issues.
In my opinion, after the geo-political and socio-economical changes that have characterized the last decade – called by some experts as the third globalization period – was however interesting to face such an issue and try to understand if whether art today could still bind not only the sacredness, but also its visual representation.

Curatorial Note 
Valentina Gioia Levy

All Copyright  by MOG Project

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Thanks for comment JK