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The Anti-Mail: An Interview with Kiran Subbaiah
by Himali Singh Soin

New Delhi, Jan. 2013: Kiran Subbaiah was not born in 1971 in Karnataka, India. He did not complete an MFA in sculpture at The Royal College of Art in London, and neither did he graduate with an undergraduate degree in sculpture from The University of Baroda. He hasn’t shown all over the world, especially not recently at the Centre Pompidou, Serpentine, Bose Pacia, Thomas Erben, among others. He did not receive the Unesco Aschberg Bursary or the Inlaks scholarship. And lastly, he has not been written about in renowned magazines and museum publications. In fact, he has never done anything. Except find himself an email address from which he might write letters to himself.

Here is a glimpse into the mysterious, atonal, Anti-World of Kiran Subbaiah and a rare image of a conversation between him and me.

Kiran Subbaiah, ignore; Courtesy of the artist.

From: Kiran Subbaiah <>

Date: Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 9:37 PM

Subject: Re: Interview for ArtSlant

To: Himali Singh Soin <>


Hello Himali, I'm attaching my standard autobio from which you can extract a shortbio that suits you.

Also some images specially for you. No captions required.

Quest10 is already answered.

It's fine if you prefer not to answer my questions.


love and peace.



From: Himali Singh Soin <>

To: Kiran Subbaiah <>

Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 10:56 AM

Subject: Re: Interview for ArtSlant



1. You want to answer 10 really :)?

2. Can you add an example in 8? So that someone who's never seen your art might visualize/imagine it? 

3. And then can you send me this: I need an image of you, and about 10 images (with captions) that span the trajectory of your work.



Kiran Subbaiah, bicycle; Courtesy of the artist.


On Tue, Jan 15, 2013 at 12:59 AM, Kiran Subbaiah <> wrote:


1. Tell me about the environment in which you grew up. What were your early inspirations?

Like most people I was sent to school and made to sit at a desk and obey my teacher for 6 hours a day, 6 days a week for 12 years. That anti-inspired me to apply for art school, as an escape route from studies and so called ‘work’ which most people these days do.

2. Your website was Your work subverts convention, rejects the big, and highlights the profound in the everyday. What sparked your philosophy of the 'Anti'? 

My work does not subvert convention and so on, it's too helpless to do such things. ‘Antikiran’ started with trying to find an email id. The more appropriate ones were already taken. So I tried some random short prefixes to my first-name and quickly settled for ‘antikiran’ to get my account working. I had to cook up a less obvious philosophy to go with it… other than ‘anti-everything’ or ‘anti-myself’. My friend Sunil Abraham proposed the reference of matter vs anti-matter … that’s the one I kept.

2. How have your anti-kiranisms been received? Does it, in its negative space, highlight the positive? Or does it piss an audience off, make them uncomfortable?

You are my audience. You tell me. Are you pissed off or comfortable?

3. What do you look at when you look out your window?

My neighbor’s window.

4. What was the very first piece of art you created? 

Meconium. Wish I still had it to show you.

5. You've travelled all over the world showing your stories/sculptures/videos/installations. Do you have a term that classifies the entire oeuvre? How has creating work in different countries changed your preoccupations?

I did not travel to show what I did but more to see what others did - to steal culture. You can call it gypsy art. I still keep looking for things beyond what is familiar. One doesn’t necessarily have to travel these days.  It’s a pleasure to meet you.

7. What is Narcissicon about? 

It’s about my sexual attraction towards myself.

8. Your objects and spatial works utilize wood, steel, rope, matchsticks, bells to reveal (or conceal, as the case may be), conceptual ideas, often anthropomorphic in nature. Why does this inversion make us laugh? And why does it seem to recall more about the human consciousness than the living? (Or does it not?)

They are all very, very sad. It’s anti-anthropomorphism. It’s living consciousness turned into objects, which is what all art is. It makes you laugh to help you get by.

9. Your current project is stated as: "Kiran Subbaiah has decided to get down to make some plans to start thinking about preparing to begin getting ready to find out what to do." How does this circular breathing allow you to arrive at the centre? 

What do you mean? Pranayama or didgeridoo? Breathing does not transport me. What center? You mean like New Delhi or Kundalini?

10. [Am I missing something important you want to talk about?] Create your own question and answer it.

Okay, done.


Hope you enjoy this!




On 10-Jan-2013, at 7:00 PM, Kiran Subbaiah <> wrote:


dear Himali,

please mail me your questions

will answer on the 14th.




From: Himali Singh Soin <>

To: Kiran Subbaiah <>

Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2013 3:06 PM

Subject: Re: Interview for ArtSlant



I thought we had met! I'm working with Thukral and Tagra till Sunday on a project so unfortunately I'll be in the depths of their studio then.

Possible to email each other back and forth? My no. is **********.




Kiran Subbaiah, petition; Courtesy of the artist.


On Thu, Jan 10, 2013 at 2:55 PM, Kiran Subbaiah <> wrote:


hello Himali, we met at Bar1

I am in mumbai today 10th and will be in New delhi on the 11th, and 12th.

It would be good to do the interview live.

I am not carrying my mobile. but you can send me your number.


Kiran Subbaiah


From: Himali Singh Soin <>


Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2013 1:16 PM

Subject: Interview for ArtSlant


Hi Kiran,

I know you from all our mutual friends, though I don't think we've met. I'm a writer for Artforum, ArtSlant, TAKE, ArtIndia and others and curate text-based art. ( is creating a big splash for the Art Fair this year, and I've only ever agreed to write hissing critiques of the money and the noses and the performance of a paradox such as an art fair. They want to feature an interview with an artist at the time of the fair, and I thought perhaps you, in all your anti-lives, might be an appropriate candidate?

Cheers on your show at C&L, and let me know if you can make time for a couple answers.



Himali Singh Soin


ArtSlant would like to thank Kiran Subbaiah for his assistance in making this interview possible.

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