Tuesday 1 August 2023

TARQ: Preview Thursday 10th August 2023 | 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Parag Tandel: Archipelagic Archivist

Curated by Shaunak Mahbubani

About the Exhibition

Amongst the incessant din of new construction, it is often forgotten that Mumbai was once an archipelago of seven islands. The Kolis, indigenous inhabitants of these lands and waters stewarded the vibrant ecology for centuries. In his upcoming solo exhibition at TARQ, artist Parag Tandel from Thane’s Chendani Koliwada, archives the rich culture of the Kolis alongside networks of kinship between the community and coastal ecosystems.

Passing down knowledges through oraliture, the Kolis have been left out of the process of writing their own history. To counteract this historical erasure, Tandel presents new bodies of sculpture that draw from complex traditions of food, fishing, and faith. Eschewing imperial modes of recording such as maps and ledgers, the artist instead looks towards the realm of affect to create a distinct form of archiving that resonates with the heritage of his people.

"This method of archiving that Parag has developed can be seen within the context of what Caribbean philosopher Édouard Glissant has called archipelagic thinking — one that balances acts of belonging with ways of being in relation to the world, that is 'rooted and open, in harmony and in errantry,' 1 " writes curator Shaunak Mahbubani. "Presenting a solo show after seven years, one sees a profound leap in Parag's practice, especially within his immersion into material culture that simultaneously channels his Koli ancestry while being in dialogue with the rapidly changing state of the city, and the global climate crisis at large."

Tracing a route from the arrival of the Portuguese to the current coastal road development, Tandel brings us into contact with a range of interconnected stories. In sculptures fashioned from the Jambul tree, we encounter the effects of 17th century policies which outlawed ageold jambul wine making processes. Alongside, in the limited edition publication 'Ek Bagal Mein Chand Hoga Ek Bagal Mein Rotiyan', we are introduced to recipes collected from Koli kitchens, a food culture that is currently under threat due to rapid urbanization and oceanic pollution. 

Talisman for Coastal Futures 3, 2023

Not content with only looking at history, the artist is also keenly interested in fostering new possibilities. 'Into The Bones' is a unique collaboration with metalwork artists from the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, melding indigenous artistic techniques from the two regions to develop a series of 12 intricate mixed media sculptures. Calling out to the next generation, the show culminates with an assembly of ecstatic thread sculptures, combining the traditional armatures of the Koli faith with the dynamic energy of the ocean and all its inhabitants. 'भराली' are talismans to cast spells for inter-species coastal futures.

Poetically moving between islands of time and material metaphor, Parag Tandel invites viewers to enter the waterways of the erstwhile Bombai archipelago, where tides carry the force of celebration, loss, and resilient hope. 

1 Glissant Édouard, Wing B. Poetics of Relation. Ann Arbor Michigan: University of Michigan Press; 1997. p 34. 

About the Artist Parag Tandel 

(b. 1978), is a Mumbai-based artist with a Postgraduate-Diploma in Creative Sculpture from M. S University, Baroda (2005) and Diploma in sculpture and modelling from Sir J.J School of Art, Mumbai (2003). Tandel’s solo exhibitions include Pregnant Room 1 and Pregnant Room 2, both showcased at Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai, (2008 & 2010) Chronicle at TARQ, Mumbai (2016) and Autopolisphilia curated by Noopur Desai at Sudarshan art gallery, Pune, India (2018). He has also been part of various group shows across India including Event, Memory, Metaphor curated by Anish Gawande at TARQ, Mumbai (2022); New Natures: A Terrible Beauty is Born curated by Ravi Agarwal at the Goethe Institut, Mumbai (2022); All Canaries Bear Watching curated by Premjish Achari at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (2022); Fragile Kinships curated by Shaunak Mahbubani at the Swiss Embassy, New Delhi (2018); Baroda March, Mumbai (2015); Small is Big, Durbar Hall, Kochi (2013); Earth Art Project Tansa, Arka Art Trust, Mumbai (2013); The Art of Drawing, The Guild, Mumbai (2011); TAKE 2, Aarushi Arts, Delhi (2011); and AvaGard, Threshold Art Gallery, Delhi (2009) among others. 

Some of his public art projects include Tandel Fund of Archives, pop-up museum of fisherfolk, Mumbai (2020 & 2019); (En)counters- Daily Rations Public art project, curated by Artoxygen, Breathing art works, Mumbai (2017); Geographies of consumptions, Mumbai (2015); Big 

Catch, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai (2012); and Sandarbh, Rajasthan (2011). Tandel has been a recipient of the Jhunjhunwala Scholarship Award (2003); Maharashtra State Art Award (2003); and All India Art and Craft Society State Award (2003). Additionally, he has participated in residencies at the Banboo Curtain Studio, Taiwan (2018) Piramal Art Residency (2017), Space 118 (2015), Mumbai and in Partapur, Rajasthan

Parag’s artist book Ek bagal mein chand hoga ek bagal mein rotiyan was published in 2021 by TARQ with support from Mumbai Water Narratives at the Living Waters Museum. He recently showed his work How to cook Bombay Duck in various ways? at India Art Fair 2023. 

Journey of Bombay duck, 2023

He currently lives and works in Thane, Mumbai. 

About the Curator Shaunak Mahbubani (they/she) is a nomadic curator and writer. They primarily pursue projects under the exhibition series 'Allies for the Uncertain Futures’ focused on exploring possibilities of co-visioning futures grounded in the pursuit of non-duality. The fourth iteration in this series, AUTOPOIESIS (2022-23) had manifestations and cross-pollinations across Mexico City, New Delhi, and Berlin. 

They will curate The Albanian Conference at the upcoming Lagos Biennale (2024). Other recent curatorial projects include how many songs from a single note? (TARQ, Mumbai, 2022), Party Office at documenta fifteen (Kassel 2022, co-curated with Vidisha-Fadescha), A—ligning the Un—certain (Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin, 2022), Skin To Skin (Experimenter, Kolkata, 2023), Entre Sures (Mexico City, 2021, Co-curated with Eli Moon), Seeds are Being Sown (PRAF, New Delhi, 2020), Reality is Post-Produced (TIER, Berlin, 2019), and Saavdhaan: The Regimes of Truth (New Delhi, 2018).

Shaunak’s art writing has appeared in Artforum, Critical Collective, Mezosfera, ifa Biennale stories, STIR World, Hakara Journal and other platforms. They have been awarded residencies, grants, and engagements from Goethe Institut, ISCP New York, La Napoule Foundation France, The Gujral Foundation, Inlaks Foundation, and IFA India. Since 2019, they have also been collaborating with artist-curator Vidisha-Fadescha under the moniker 'After Party Collective', creating momentum towards the affirmation of trans*, intersex, and gender-dissident bodies through curatorial and performance projects, including DANCE TRANS* REVOLUTION (New York, 2021), and publication series Consent of The Goverened (coedited with Party Office, 2021-ongoing). 

Shaunak is currently based between Berlin and India.

Preview Thursday 10th August 2023 | 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm 

Show continues till 30th September 2023

Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 11:00 am to 6:30 pm 

For further enquiries contact:

Harshada Vijay | press@tarq.in | +91 9930318581

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Thanks for comment JK