‘Every up and down is fertile ground for a whole world of possibilities...’|
‘The WhyNot Place’ residency programme is a unique art residency organized by Religare Art, a New Delhi based arts organization. Held within the gallery spaces at Religare Art, this residency brings together a select group of emerging and mid-career artists ranging across different media and sensibilities. The residency is intended as a process studio that enables each artist to further their own conceptual and aesthetic sensibilities within a broad thematic framework suggested by a mentor. Using the armature of the shifting nature of our capital city – New Delhi, this residency invites applications to create a dialogue based on the artists own independent interests and practices, to process, critique and digest their impressions of the external and internal landscape in very open ended ways best suited to their pre-existing practice.
The program was launched in the summer of 2009.
Religare Art is located in Connaught Place, the heart of New Delhi. Connaught Place (CP) is a relatively new city centre created by colonial town planners in 1911 when the capital of British India was shifted to Delhi from Calcutta. New Delhi as a city, was planned on the outer limits of Shahjahanabad or Old Delhi. The day New Delhi and CP were completed, all the power and a huge slice of dynamism flowed out of Old Delhi into the new colonial capital.
For many decades, CP and New Delhi was Delhi’s nerve centre. This urban centrality gradually decreased as Delhi grew radially outwards, first to all the colonies in South and West Delhi, then through all the development in North Delhi and lastly as the city ballooned in terms of population, in East Delhi. The huge residential and commercial real estate development boom in Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Noida were also responsible for some of Delhi’s vitality shifting outwards.
Cities, city centres, city limits… they’re all like that. They rise, they spread, they over-reach, they stretch too thin, they decline, competition either aids their decline or forces them to revitalize… they die, they rise again. The Delhi of today, itself encompasses seven cities of Delhi over time. Similarly, summer is seen as a season of decline in CP as also within the arts calendar. “Nothing happens in summer, so why bother going out in the heat for anything more than you absolutely have to?” is a common lament.
India in the last decade has been a keen example of both micro and macro changes. The face of Delhi is undergoing rapid transformation. Personal and Cultural identity blur and reform boundaries. The Natural and the Urban form new compromises with each other. Indian and Western values clash and shake hands. Architecture chooses historic renovation or completely denies its past in favour of modernization. And Connaught place is at the heart of this incredible upheaval.
The WhyNot Place summer residency was conceptualized to expand the bouquet of programmes and infrastructure supportive of the arts, and also revitalize CP as a living, learning epicenter of the artistic possibilities inherent in the WHYNOT idea, that has the potential to revitalize any place, anything, anyone…
THEME FOR THE 2011 PROGRAMME
and HERE again
The theme of The WhyNot Place residency this year speaks to notions of displacement, location and relocation in both geography (physical space) and history (time). Artists will be asked to negotiate their multiple pasts in reference to the multiple pasts and presents of the city. In a context as richly layered as Delhi there are several points of entry and obstruction/impenetrability located in social hierarchies, castes, economic classes, historic events, political policy and environmental law. The residency will enable interaction with several of these layers, encouraging artists to locate their practices and expand notions of what it means to be here now, given the individual histories of the artists and the cumulative experiences of the city.
ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE - ROLE OF THE MENTORS:
Through rigorous one on one dialogue and group critiques, the mentors enable the resident artists to digest and refine their conceptual and material choices including extending their research base. The problem solving and recommending of resources begins through email exchange well before the resident artists arrive, allowing for a smoother transition into creation mode, while allowing flexibility for expanding ideas. The mentors lead/organize field trips to various venues (museums, galleries, historic buildings, cultural sites and contemporary markets), present slide shows featuring renowned and lesser known art projects worldwide: particularly related to the work of the resident artists, recommend chosen readings, organize artist talks, studio visits, open studio days for dialogue with the public and avail of several other resources to enrich the specific practice of each individual artist. The mentoring is conducted with an eye toward expanding the artist's pre-existing practice in the broad context of the residency theme rather than to impose the thematic idea upon the art work. Artists are encouraged to take risks, engage in dialogue and deeply investigate their practice.
CRITICS/ WRITERS IN RESIDENCE - FROM INTENT TO ANALYSIS
The Critics/Writers in Residence is a new initiative within the residency programme starting 2011. This is a terrific opportunity for critics/writers to observe, interview and engage deeply with artists from several countries, employing different methodologies in their work and engaging in multiple disciples- all in one place. Last year the disciplines ranged from Photography, Painting, Drawings, Sculpture, Weaving, Video and Performance to Installation. This is a unique invitation into the artists’ studios to study and write about the artistic process: starting from the conception of the ideas, to the shifts and changes brought about through dialogue, research and observation, until the final realization of the project and the viewer's decoding of meaning in the art work. There will potentially be an opportunity for these writings to be published in the Catalogue / Artists' book that will accompany the Exhibition at the end of the residency, as well as to be included in other Art Magazines and online publications. Our critics/ writers in residence will also be expected to maintain a short blog during the residency period describing and reflecting upon the events of the day.
"What did the artist actually intend? How does this intention compare to the viewer's read of the work?", "How did he/ she even come up this idea?", "Why give the Art Work this form instead of another?", "What is involved in the process of taking an idea and manifesting it in this form?", "What does it mean to make art out of a thought? In fact, what does it mean to make art at all?" This residency will provide invaluable access to these critical questions for writers on art, who will then be able to carry this insight into their future musings on already manifest art forms in Museums and galleries. This opportunity is created to address some of the gaps in contemporary art criticism in Delhi that result from a lack of interaction between the artist and the person writing about his/her work.
Writers are expected to be there for all group discussions/ critiques of art work, field trips, slide shows/ lectures/ presentations and a day in the week where they interact with their chosen artists and meet with the mentors. This promises to be an intense period of research and writing, with inputs from the mentors on the structuring, adding, editing and analyzing of the information (through the psychological, cultural, historic, experiential, art historical, material, conceptual, phenomenological and other vantage points).
ABOUT THE MENTOR:
Sumakshi Singh is an artist and an educator who has taught for several years The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and lectured at Oxford University, Columbia University and The Chicago Humanities Festival among other museums and colleges. She has mentored residencies for the Victoria and Albert Museum, TheWhyNot Place 2010 and was a visiting artist advisor at KHOJ Delhi.
Her interactive installations, paintings, drawings and sculptures have been presented in solo and curated group gallery and museum exhibitions in India, China, USA and Europe. Recent venues include Museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon, France, Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art in Pittsburgh, PA, Van Harrison Gallery in New York, NY, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, IL, Illinois State Museum, IL, Kashya Hildebrand Galerie in Zurich, Switzerland, Halsey Gallery in Charleston, SC and ArtHouse Texas, TX. She was awarded a Zegna Grant in 2009, an Illinois Arts Council award in 2007 (in recognition of outstanding work and commitment within the arts) and Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award in 2005 (to support and encourage excellence, artistry, focus, direction, maturity, and originality in the visual arts). Her shows have been reviewed by Younger Than Jesus - the New Museum Catalogue, the Village Voice, ArtLovers, Austin Chronicle, Chicago tribune, Reader, Chicago Arts Critics Association, Charleston City Paper, New Haven Register among other journals and papers. Artist residencies include Mac Dowell Colony- USA, Djerassi Foundation -USA, Fondazione Pistolleto - Italy, Camargo Foundation – France, Skowhegan - USA, CAMAC - France and Sculpture Space - USA. She was a finalist for the Rijksakademie in 2006. Singh received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and a BFA from Maharaja Sayajiro University, Baroda, India.
Each year, a co-mentor is invited for the programme in order to expand the discourse and bring in fresh insights to the programme. The co-mentor for the 2011 programme will be confirmed at a later stage.