2011年兩位印度藝術家──孟買的普拉賈克塔‧波特尼斯（Prajakta Potnis）和加爾各答的朱帕蒂‧高希（Dhrupadi Ghosh）來到上海，同年10月兩位中國藝術家──北京的鄭波和劉韡，以及台灣的策展人鄭慧華（Amy Cheng）被派往德里。除了這兩位印度的藝術家和兩位中國藝術家，「巫士與異見」展覽還邀請目前居住於北京的台灣藝術家林其蔚共同參與，他曾在2013年初受邀至德里駐村。然這個展覽並不僅是關注短暫時間裡的兩地經驗的交換與結果，更多的關注在於從經驗性的創作平台出發，所延續和反芻出來的長期想法和作為。
在展覽中，每位藝術家皆以其長期以來的生活覺知與信仰基礎來創作，傳達其對社會政治、意識政治的訴求。鄭波擅長創造使觀者融入的參與式平台，在本次展出的作品中，他關注與訪查了香港菲裔移工的聚集活動，並將印度憲法之父安貝德卡爾（Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar） 的思想與意見注入當代中國與香港的社會階級對話裡，通過製造「境遇」（情境與相遇）而產生了轉化性的交會經驗。朱帕蒂‧高希這位年輕藝術家，她巨大的創造 力，來自於其長期反思新自由主義、官僚體制，以及從事追討和思辯印度社會中的公平正義的具體行動。她的場域在街道上、在人群裡。「巫士與異見」展出高希長 期以來為社會運動所繪製的一系列海報，她的聲音與爆發力迸發於其中，並產生意義。
普 拉賈克塔‧波特尼斯細膩而敏銳，她的創作具有見微知著的能力，從集體經驗中挖掘個人生活的小歷史，二者彼此見證也彼此辯證。波特尼斯為本展作的創作，是找 來上海即將被拆除改建的老建物的斷垣殘壁，以物質的形式來重新檢視歷史過程與個人記憶。在她的層層織作與凝視中，大歷史與個人小歷史的合謀與傾軋隱隱流洩 而出，此外，她同時通過以在印度與中國兩地生活的人的交換信件來鋪述更多關於時間、空間移轉與個人經驗之間關係交織的時代故事。劉韡的創作如煉金術一般有 著驚人的建構能力，其中通過他獨特的組織方式提供種種溢於言表的想像和生存體悟，從各樣視覺性經驗中映射出從傳統過渡至現代，個人與集體交遇境況中幽微的 感受與精神狀態。劉韡這次將以蒙太奇式的影像装置，組構他於北京城鄉接合之境所拍攝的群像與話語，以此體現流動於人際、自然之間的諸種社會生活價值觀。林 其蔚對當前主宰世界運行的理性憲章之下的身－心異化、知識分類，乃至於疆界、科層的主流秩序保持一種警覺與反省。有別於他過去以行為與聲音為主的作品，這 次展出的作品是他花費長時間製作的三系列素描，以及物件組合，從幽秘而個人的「視界」進入，引領出獨特的經驗、心識狀態和對世界的闡釋。這些充滿象徵與超 現實意味的作品既像是一個人精神世界的低語，又傳達著人與世界之間多樣有趣的連繫方式。
The exhibition Shamans and Dissent presents results from the 2011 West Heavens – Artist Dispatch Project. Conducted in Delhi and Shanghai, the residency invited four artists to construct intersections between individual and group experiences in a time when primary experiences are devalued, and to envision other cultures. The residency was one of many projects spawned by the West Heavens project, which over the last three years has reflected on western-dominated knowledge constructs, concepts of time and history seen in colonial modernity and existential quandaries created by behavior systems in modern life.
In 2011, West Heavens dispatched the Mumbai artist Prajakta Potnis and Kolkata artist Dhrupadi Ghosh to Shanghai, and the two Beijing artists Liu Wei and Zheng Bo, along with Taiwanese curator Amy Cheng, to Delhi. The exhibition Shamans and Dissent presents the work of these four artists, plus that of Lin Chi-Wei, a Taiwanese artist residing in Beijing, who, in early 2013, was also invited to Delhi. Not only about the artists' experiences and exchanges during these temporary residencies, the exhibition was conceived as a platform for experiential artwork and extends concepts and practices that had been underway for some time.
The exhibition concept and name Shamans and Dissent were inspired by an essay by Indian philosopher Ashis Nandy titled Shamans, Savages and the Wilderness: On the Audibility of Dissent and the Future of Civilizations. Furthermore, the curatorial intention was to consider the artists' intersecting experiences as an integrated text in a way that would value the unique history and circumstances of each participant. The result is a process that is continuously experienced, rearranged and presented, and irrespective of when or where it is applied, one that consciously reflects on the movement and exchange of global culture, knowledge and art.
As an extension of the Artist Dispatch Project initiated by Raqs Media (who see art as a form of “kinetic contemplation”), the exhibition emphasizes presence underlying both the body and experience, interrogates what presence entails, and once again posits the potential of multiple narratives and political action, and the contemplative power of the lost tradition of storytelling.
The exhibition concept also responds to alienation and fragmentation arising from deployment of biopower under different modernizations, specifically its principles of organization and distribution. Nandy uses the shaman to exemplify the power of dissenting voices and renegade opinions, and his powerful insights urge deeper reflection of, or launch a counter offensive to, the dominant global political ideology of colonial modernity and its imposition of definitions on individuals. Nandy calls this struggle the “recovery of other selves,” and uses the shaman as a vivid and effective symbol of non-conforming, diverging opinion, and a strategy for this recovery.
Exhibited works reflect each artist's long-term beliefs and perceptions. Zheng Bo is known for incorporating the audience into his work, and here his concern is gatherings of Filipino laborers residing in Hong Kong and the ideas of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, architect of India's constitution. He inserts Ambedkar’s ideas into the contemporary dialog about social class in China and Hong Kong and by manufacturing situations, transforms intersecting experiences. The young artist Dhrupadi Ghosh's enormous ingenuity comes from her long term political engagement with neoliberalism, bureaucracy and her contemplation and advocacy of social justice in India. Her areas of interest are the street and community. The exhibition presents a series of posters by Ghosh, which reflect her long-term participation in social movements, and contain her powerful and highly significant voice.
Prajakta Potnis makes delicate and sensitive work that gets to the essence of things with small details. She excavates individual histories from collective experience; two perspectives that testify to one another in a dialectical fashion. Potnis has sought out debris from old buildings in Shanghai on the verge of demolition to revisit historical process and individual memories through material evidence. Relying on her careful observations, she weaves together layers of materials to present the harmony and disharmony of large and small histories. Another piece by Potnis displays letters exchanged between people living in India and China, which tells interwoven stories about changing times and places and personal experience.
Like alchemy, Liu Wei's work is startling in its power to create something out of nothing. Through his unique way of organizing elements, he awakens us to different ways of seeing the world and modes of living that defy verbal description. From various visual experiences, he projects subtle feelings and mental states that exist in the intersections between individual and collective experiences of transitioning from traditional to modern. In this exhibition Liu presents a montage-style installation composed of video footage of people interacting in and around Beijing, which features shifting lifestyles, values and natural environments. Lin Chi-Wei reflects on the alienation between the body and mind, classification of knowledge, and even divisions between fields of inquiry produced by the world's dominant forms of rationality. While he has produced art mostly using performance and sound to date, for this exhibition he presents three series of drawings that he has dedicated much time and energy to, as well as an assemblage of objects. These works refer to unique experiences and states of mind and comment on the world with the artist's mysterious and individual vision. They are filled with symbolic and Surrealist implications, drift toward us like whisperings from his spiritual realm, and point out many fascinating links between the individual and world.