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 “Imagined Futures, Reconstructed Pasts”


Bikaner House

December 7 – 18, 2016


Anant Art is an initiative of Anant Art Gallery which played a crucial role in promoting contemporary art in India. Anant Art Gallery has not only hosted significant South Asian contemporary artists in the 2000s, it also defined new standards in its art exhibitions and representations of artists.

Anant Art is a customized platform which keeps pace with current global contemporary art trends. We at Anant Art believe in offering solutions to discover and collect artworks. We are a team of art enthusiasts committed to making the art-collecting experience enjoyable, accessible, and enriching.

Besides establishing a dynamic virtual presence for South Asian contemporary art, Anant Art is also committed to focus on online and offline curation, art historical research, art publishing, and various interactive educational outreach programmes.  Anant Art strives to develop itself as a multifaceted platform which could catalyse new thinking and discussions on contemporary art. As part of this, Anant Art is planning to organise a series of exhibitions on contemporary art with a special focus on paintings and sculptures of young and emerging artists across India.

Anant Art is delighted to present Imagined Futures, Reconstructed Pasts, an exhibition curated by Meera Menezes that brings together 17 well-known contemporary artists. They include Atul Bhalla, AnoliPerera, Archana Hande, Arshad Hakim, Anant Joshi, B.V. Suresh, Gigi Scaria, Marie Velardi, MadhubanMitra, Manas Bhattacharya, Prajakta Potnis, Pratap Morey, Ravi Agarwal, Rohini Devasher, SonamChaturvedi, Shukla Sawant and Shilpa Gupta.

The exhibition offers the artists a springboard from which to create a vision for the future or to re-imagine the past. It also offers a series of questions for the artists to ruminate on:

Does an imagining of the future reveal a dystopia or a utopia? A fantastical magical space or a beleaguered planet drowning in seas of plastic and urban waste and battling climate change?

By bringing together memories of the past with an imagination of the future can important undercurrents in the present be rendered visible? How have the seeds of the future already been sown in the past?

The past is continually being reconfigured from the point of view of the present. How is history being reconstituted to suit the ideology of the present? What ramifications does this reconstruction have for the future?

Some of the artists have chosen to address the issues of impending ecological disaster in the age of the Anthropocene. While Gigi Scaria foregrounds the delicate ecological balance in his work “Look up, Look down,” Prajakta Potnis stages installations in a freezer in her ongoing series “when the wind blows.” For Potnis, “The frost from the freezer simulates a snow-clad deserted landscape or a terrain of an unknown planet. With the melting of glaciers to the seed vault in Norway, the freezer seemed like an appropriate space to reiterate the dialogue around the Anthroprocene through the realm of the domestic.”

Artist Ravi Agarwal journeys back into the past in his works Sea of MarsandPre-Post Anthropocene Craft toseek out other forms of imagining nature, which pre-dated the age of industrialization: “The journey into the future could need many redefinitions. The past holds many clues. The kattumaran, is an ancient rudimentary hand crafted fishing vessel, predating the nature-culture divide. It also presents itself in a  ‘Zen’ cycle of life – of going back to the past, for the future. The way forward could be backwards, tore-embark on a new set of explorations – a redefining of space itself.” 

Given the digital age we live in with increasing emphasis on artificial intelligence, robotics and drones, Arshad Hakim chooses to speculate on machines and their morality. Shilpa Gupta on the other hand, draws attention to the increasing mechanisms of surveillance in a post 9/11 world in her work “There is No Explosive in This”.

Memory and history surface in the works of several artists. The fear of forgetting haunts Anoli Perera as she searches for mementos, relics and faded photos in her mother’s album to commit her mother’s history to memory. Domestic concerns also come to the fore in Shukla Sawant’s installation, which highlights issues of caregiving, gynocentric economies, processes of aging and their future imaginings.  Archana Hande in her Golden Feral Trail series records local oral histories to trace the relationship between South Asia and Western Australia, which reveals a story of the exploitation of resources and of loss and erasure. Atul Bhalla’s works are situated in the Pantheon in Rome and question the very need of looking at history to seek solutions. 

Some of the artists have chosen to foreground temporality in their works looking at ways in which the past and the future coalesce in the present. While Swiss artist Marie Velardi seeks to represent the dynamic relationship between present, past and future with colours, Sonam Chaturvedi in her video work dwells on the slippery nature of the word “Now.” In their video “Come and Go” Madhuban Mitra and Manas Bhattacharya inspect moving images from the past, re-contextualizing them into speculative forms for the present, while looking to the future.