Jyoti Dhar

  • View of Amal Kenawy’s Non-Stop Conversation, 2007. Sharjah Biennial 8, Sharjah Art Foundation, 2007.
    diary April 15, 2021

    Meet Me Halfway

    “YOU FEEL GEOLOGIC TIME IN SHARJAH,” Eungie Joo said at the March Meeting 2021, the annual three-day convening of globe-trotting art professionals hosted by the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) in the United Arab Emirates. This year’s program, “Unravelling the Present,” was staged as a ten-day series of virtual roundtable discussions and solo presentations as part of a thirtieth-anniversary reflection on the Sharjah Biennial. In her presentation, Joo, who curated the biennial’s twelfth edition in 2015, spoke of seeing seashells in the desert during an on-site research trip in Sharjah and realizing

  • Fahd Burki, Affinity, 2020, wood, acrylic gesso, 29 3/4 × 22 7/8".

    Fahd Burki

    Fahd Burki sits in his studio on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, and tunes in to the sounds that encircle him: the call of the Asian koel, the drone of distant traffic. Burki works slowly, sometimes making only four or five pieces a year, and though he thinks in images he spends much of his time immersed in the world of sound. Situated between analog and digital, his sonic influences include ambient musicians Brian Eno, Steve Roach, and Hiroshi Yoshimura. Their music uses both acoustic and electronic instruments and emphasizes sustained tones. One doesn’t hear much variation or progression

  • View of “one hundred thousand small tales,” 2019–2020 at Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Sri Lanka. All photos: Ruvin de Silva.
    slant January 15, 2020

    Turning The Page

    THROUGHOUT SRI LANKA’S ART HISTORY, the people have been the keepers of knowledge. In place of national institutions and collections, artists, collectors, scholars, and gallerists have acted as repositories of artistic traditions, preserving mini-archives of an invaluable heritage. Until now, much of this cultural production has been neither publicly available nor permanently preserved. The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Sri Lanka (MMCA), a newly launched, cautiously optimistic initiative in Colombo, seeks to redress these issues of national and historical significance, one project at a

  • Venuri Perera, I dance for , 2019. Performance view, B52 at the Grand Oriental Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka, January 25, 2019. From left: Rebeka Dilrukshi, Hasanthi Niriella, Venuri Perera, Kanchana M. Shani. Photo: Ruvin de Silva. From Colomboscope.


    This past January, the artist and raconteur Firi Rahman gave a series of informal talks in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s Galle Face Green, a seaside park flanked by the colonial-era Galle Face Hotel and the futuristic megaproject Port City Colombo. During these events, he stood in front of Taste Karaththé, 2019, a street seller’s cart he had converted into a mobile phenakistoscope display featuring animations of sharks, coral reefs, and lighthouses. Speaking in Sinhala, Tamil, English, and Malay, Rahman drew a diverse crowd. He told stories of people from his neighboring community (called Kompannavidiya,

  • Shu Lea Cheang, Making News Making History—Live from Tiananmen Square, 1989, five-channel video, color, sound, 30 minutes.

    “(Not) Just a Historical Document”

    “The name of the game is Dialogue,” an expressionless female face tells us in a booming robotic voice. The rules of the game are simple, but bear repeating for the sake of emphasis: Keep playing and keep talking; keep playing and keep talking. “Let us now begin our dialogue,” she says, piquing our curiosity. “You’ve lost.”

    At first, Danny Ning Tsun Yung’s single-channel video Game, 1986, appears to suggest that debate, dialogue, and reasoning are the origin of game logic. However, as the video continues and the participant loses no matter what, this absurd game points to the meaninglessness of

  • Gauri Gill, Untitled (13), 2015–, ink-jet print, 24 x 16". From the series “Acts of Appearance,” 2015–.

    Gauri Gill

    “Who does the indigenous turn belong to?” asked keynote speaker Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak at the Dhaka Art Summit in Bangladesh this past February. The postcolonial theorist posed this question in response to the recent focus on so-called indigenous practices—a focus made manifest, in particular, in a critical-writing program at the summit. Prodding us to question the very term indigenous and its historical origins, Spivak recalled the distinction between work that acts as an extension of the colonial project and work that subverts it.

    The same month, Gauri Gill held her exhibition “Acts

  • Munem Wasif, Land of Undefined Territory 12, 2014–15, ink-jet print, 8 x 12".

    Munem Wasif

    There is nothing new about science fiction containing an under-lying social message. An exhibition of photographs, prints, and video art that evokes a sci-fi aesthetic and sounds a warning siren for urgent social, political, and ecological issues in South Asia does, however, give one pause for thought. Bangladesh-born Munem Wasif’s solo exhibition “Jomin o Joban—a tale of the land” opened with a series of monochrome, light-gray landscapes of barren mountain passes and scree that brought to mind an extraterrestrial terrain such as the desolate moonscape of Anarres in Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1974

  • Priya Ravish Mehra, Making the Invisible Visible (detail), 2012/2017, wood, darned textiles, sound. Installation view. From “Evidence Room.”

    “Evidence Room”

    Over the past decade, timely art festivals such as “48°C Public.Art.Ecology” (2008) and the “Yamuna-Elbe Project” (2011) have highlighted some of New Delhi’s most pressing environmental issues, including rising temperatures, toxic water supplies, and a growing population. Among these initiatives, nonprofit organization Khoj International Artists’ Association stands out for its consistent and long-term approach to public-art, community-oriented, and ecology-based programs in India. One such program, “Negotiating Routes: Ecologies of the Byways” (2010–14), combined these three interest areas and

  • Yee I-Lann, Fluid World, 2010, ink-jet print, acid dye, indigo dye, and batik crackle on silk twill, 51 × 111 3/4". From “Sunshower: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia, 1980s to Now.”


    At a time when Western alliances such as NATO and the EU are under unprecedented threat, other international post–World War II consortia have taken on renewed significance.“Sunshower” marks the fifty-year anniversary of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), a ten-country trade partnership founded in 1967, with a major presentation of eighty-five artists from the member nations. Hoping to sidestep the often-reductive frameworks of large-scale, geography-based surveys, the fourteen-person curatorial

  • Raúl Zurita, The Sea of Pain, 2016, seawater pool, text on eight canvases. Installation view, Aspinwall House. Raúl Zurita.

    the Kochi-Muziris Biennale

    IN HER 2013 ESSAY “Globalism Before Globalization,” critic and curator Nancy Adajania recounts how, in 1968, the first Triennale India was initially misunderstood and rejected by the art community, and later mummified by the retrograde vision of a meddlesome state. She contrasts this star-crossed endeavor with the Delhi Biennale of 2005, which was artist-backed but short-lived because it had no state support at all. As her text rightly suggests, between these extremes lies the model for a potentially successful recurrent exhibition. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale, located in Kerala and now in its

  • MouSen+MSG, The Great Chain of Being–Planet Trilogy, 2016, mixed media. Installation view. From the 11th Shanghai Biennale.

    the 11th Shanghai Biennale

    In 1991, three young filmmakers from New Delhi were discussing the future of the world over a late-night game of carom (table billiards) when they decided to write their first script together. The resultant film, Half the Night Left, and the Universe to Comprehend, 1991, marked the formalization of the three-way partnership among Jeebesh Bagchi, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and Monica Narula as Raqs Media Collective. Raqs’s artistic approach, involving cinematic, philosophical, social, and digital pursuits, as well as their cerebral force, often pulls other practitioners into their orbit and is fueled

  • Rana Begum, No. 670, L installation, 2016, powder-coated galvanized steel. Installation view. Photo: Jack Hems.

    Rana Begum

    London is a city best encountered on the move. As the to-and-fro of commuters and the rhythmic waves of visitors synchronize into one homogenous beat, we tend to overlook the colorful moments that can punctuate the dull monotony and give this city its eclectic character, from neon-yellow underground railings against charcoal-gray business suits to steel-drum street music accompanied by the drilling sounds of construction, or a graffiti-covered parking lot at the foot of a sharp, shiny skyscraper. Tuning in to these varying pulses and contrasting facades, however, is the perfect way to prepare