Meera Menezes

  • Nalini Malani, George Orwell Once Said, 2018, iPad animation, color, sound, 30 seconds.

    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

  • View of “Bani Abidi,” 2019.

    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, Munna Apa’s Garden, 1989, oil on canvas, 62 1⁄4 × 68 1⁄4".

    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, Still Life with Fictitious Object, 2017, ink-jet print, 20 × 30".

    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

  • Jacques Kaufmann, To Purify Space, 2018, brick, bamboo, fired clay, mirrors, 11' 9 3⁄4“ × 9' 10 1⁄8” × 9' 10 1⁄8". From the Indian Ceramics Triennale. Photo: Shine Bhola and Jawahar Kala Kendra.

    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, Study for a liquid mountain, 2017–18, fiberglass, iron, 111 × 56 × 56".

    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

  • Vivan Sundaram, 12 Bed Ward (detail), 2005, steel, shoe soles, string, wire, lightbulbs, dimensions variable.

    Vivan Sundaram

    A crashing of waves precedes the grinding of machinery. Searchlights flash and sirens wail. Soon other sounds rend the air: sailors’ ditties mixed with the staccato beat of Morse code and chants of “Kill the British” and “Quit India.” Staged within the interior of a gigantic ship-like structure fashioned by Vivan Sundaram, this forty-two-minute, eight-channel sound piece by artist David Chapman (made in collaboration with cultural theorist Ashish Rajadhyaksha and film historian Valentina Vitali) creates a gripping immersive experience. Staged in the interior of Meanings of Failed Action:

  • Zarina, My Dark House at Aligarh, 2017, woodcut on paper, 10 x 8".


    An inky blackness descends and shrouds Zarina’s woodcut My Dark House at Aligarh, 2017. Only slivers of light illuminating an arched entrance hint at the presence of a building lurking in the darkness. This image recalls a place the artist once called home: the Indian city of Aligarh, where Zarina was born in 1937. This was before the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947, when she, like millions of others, faced the prospect of displacement and rupture. While her liberal Muslim family finally moved from Aligarh to Pakistan in 1959, Zarina opted to stay on in India. Having

  • “Vivan Sundaram: Disjunctures”

    A newspaper photograph of a dead man lying in the street during the Hindu–Muslim riots of 1992 and 1993 was the point of departure for Vivan Sundaram’s multimedia installation Memorial, 1993/2014. Sundaram’s interest in the photograph both as a document and as evidence of political violence is an important part of the narrative for his exhibition at Haus der Kunst; it is equally emblematic of the artist’s ongoing deliberations on the subjects of history, memory, and the archive. The show will also bring to the fore Sundaram’s experiments in drawing, painting, sculpture,

  • K. G. Subramanyan, Ageless Combat I, 1998, watercolor and oil on acrylic sheet, 74 3/8 x 50 3/4".

    K. G. Subramanyan

    K. G. Subramanyan’s dramatic War of the Relics, 2012, occupied pride of place in this show mounted as a tribute to the artist and teacher, who passed away in June 2016. As the title suggests, confrontation is a strong element in the black-and-white, acrylic-on-canvas work. Amid luxuriant vegetation where mythical creatures abound, men astride elephants and horses encounter battle tanks, while the desire-fulfilling cow goddess, Kamadhenu, faces off against a ferocious rhinoceros-like creature and grim-faced warriors cross swords. Decorative borders frame the individual panels—a nod to

  • Madhvi Parekh, Untitled (Durga II), 2006, acrylic paint on acrylic sheet, 48 x 351/2"

    Madhvi Parekh

    A childlike naïveté and a sense of wonder permeate Madhvi Parekh’s paintings. Is it because the septuagenarian draws her creative sustenance not from the teeming cities where she has spent most of her adult life but from her memories of growing up in a village? “I have never forgotten the sights and sounds of my village; I carry them with me everywhere, and although they are often combined with elements I have imbibed living in the city, they still endure,” she confided to me several years ago.

    The village she refers to is Sanjaya, in the Indian state of Gujarat, where she spent a happy childhood