Meera Menezes

  • Where we’re at: Beijing, Singapore, Tokyo, Shanghai, New Delhi



    BLACK MAOISM was a real thing. Recently I’ve been thinking about what that means in China today.

    Radical histories of Blackness in China are rarely part of mainstream discussions on Afro-Asian solidarity on either side of the Pacific, yet those very legacies explain why Shirley Graham Du Bois is buried in Beijing’s Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery, China’s illustrious burial ground for its national heroes.

    I’ve recently found access to these histories through the Department of Xenogenesis, a series of pedagogical dialogues organized on Zoom by the Otolith Group. Kodwo Eshun

  • Sujith SN

    Sujith SN’s monumental watercolor And River without a Bend, 2019—nearly seven feet long—seemed uncannily prescient. It depicts a line of people standing on a narrow jetty with plenty of space between them. Adopting different postures and rendered in profile, they appear strangely disconnected—some lost in contemplation, others staring ahead aimlessly, while still others seem to be waiting for some action to unfold. Accentuating this sense of estrangement is the artist’s dexterous use of lighting, his characters illuminated against the murky gloom of the river beside them. The work recalled an

  • Shambhavi

    You could almost feel a gentle breeze rippling through Shambhavi’s aptly titled installation Purabiya.Easterly (Easterly.Easterly) (all works 2019). It appeared to tousle the work’s dozen elegantly perched metallic objects, bending and twisting them as it went along. These forms, scattered through the upper floor of the gallery, could masquerade as part of the vegetal world just as blithely as they could claim to belong to the animal kingdom. Were they perhaps the large leaves of some luxuriant plant or possibly the wings of a moth? The flapping ears of an elephant or the petals of some exotic

  • Abir Karmakar

    “Here everything is fine,” proclaimed the cheerful title of Abir Karmakar’s recent show. Yet clearly this assurance was not meant to be taken at face value. Lying in wait in the gallery were five works, including three large-scale installations, that conjured the feeling of a topsy-turvy world. Fashioned out of canvas and wooden stretchers, mimicking in some ways the sets in a theater, each of the three big L-shaped structures served to depict the interior of a home of a migrant family in Vadodara, India, where the artist lives. In the floor-to-ceiling oil-on-canvas Here everything is fine II

  • diary February 10, 2020

    Stayin’ Alive

    “WHEN I EAT, I EAT MY OWN DEATH,” proclaimed a pile of bright green stickers, injecting a gloomy note into what otherwise promised to be a lively opening. However dour, artist Atul Bhalla’s warning was not going to keep me from India International Centre’s famed samosas and a cup of hot tea on a cold winter’s day. Curated by Arshiya Lokhandwala, the site-specific exhibition bore the sanguine title “We Are Still Alive: Strategies in Surviving the Anthropocene.” I spotted the statuesque Shalini Passi, the collector and founder of MASH (My Art Shalini, a digital platform that sponsored the project),

  • Nalini Malani

    Nalini Malani’s animated Instagram posts are peopled with frenetic figures conjured up on her iPad. More than fifty of these, part of the series “Notebooks,” 2018–, were catapulted from the intimacy of a handheld device onto eleven large projections in the gallery space at the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan. Malani has had a long and productive association with the institut where in 1993 she staged her collaborative project with the actress Alaknanda Samarth, Medeamaterial. Malani’s recent exhibition “Can You Hear Me?” was conceived to mark the institution’s fiftieth anniversary.

    To make

  • Bani Abidi

    Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction, and Bani Abidi possesses the uncanny knack of driving this dictum home more vividly than almost anyone else. Her sources are news reports and human-interest stories to which she lends a twist, spotting the absurdity in these situations and weaving fictional narratives around them. Her single-channel video An Unforeseen Situation, 2015, for instance, is based on a series of mass events organized by the Punjab Ministry of Sports in 2014, in which multiple world records were ostensibly broken by Pakistanis. Abidi focuses on the patriotic fervor displayed


    Curated by Tamara H. Schenkenberg

    For decades Zarina has explored the notion of home, homeland, and her identity as a diasporic Indian artist. Nowhere can this be seen more eloquently than in Home Is a Foreign Place, 1999, a portfolio of thirty-six woodcuts portraying pared-down notations on language and place. Like millions of others, her liberal Muslim family faced displacement when the British partitioned the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947. Zarina’s subsequent marriage to an Indian diplomat took her around the globe, leading her to map her memories of the different cities she

  • Arpita Singh

    ARPITA SINGH has a flower fetish. Blossoms creep up the legs of a nude female in Security Check, 2003; inscribe patterns on the household furnishings in The Lily Pond Carpet, 1994; and adorn the margins of A Man with a Telephone, 1992. They spring forth from vines or bundle into bouquets that enshrine her characters, creating intricate backdrops for the mise-en-scènes collected in “Submergence: In the midst of here and there.” Curated by Roobina Karode, the octogenarian’s first retrospective comprises more than 160 works drawn from six decades of artistic production. One of India’s foremost

  • Atul Bhalla

    Was the chunk of meat in Atul Bhalla’s photograph Still Life with Fictitious Object, 2017, as innocuous as it appeared? As the saying goes, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. And all the more so in India, where the cow is considered sacred by Hindus and pork is proscribed among Muslims. While invoking the art-historical tradition of still-life painting, the image also alludes to the rising tide of intolerance in the country, which led to the 2015 lynching of a Muslim man by a mob on the mere suspicion that he had slaughtered a calf and stored the beef at home.

    Meat was a recurrent motif in

  • Indian Ceramics Triennale

    In a dimly lit room, a woman dressed in black slowly poured water from an earthenware pot. Cascading into a transparent tray, the water lapped at the walls of an exquisite miniature city painstakingly constructed of clay. This work, Evanescent Landscape—Svarglok, Jaipur, 2018, by Juree Kim, was inspired by the pink city of Jaipur and by an eighteenth-century Rajasthani miniature painting of Svarglok, the abode of the Hindu gods. Over the course of “Breaking Ground,” the inaugural Indian Ceramics Triennale, the action of the water gradually dissolved the sculpted earth, leading to the gentle

  • Alwar Balasubramaniam

    On a road trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon in 2009, Alwar Balasubramaniam decided to make a pit stop at the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. He wasn’t disappointed. The underground caves, with their cathedral-like aura and magnificent natural formations, enthralled him, planting the germ of an idea. A decade later, this vision of stalagmites conjured by slowly dripping water informed his sculpture Study for a liquid mountain, 2017–18. Situated on the rooftop of Talwar Gallery in Balasubramaniam’s recent exhibition “Liquid Lake Mountain,” the towering fiberglass-and-iron structure appeared