Chris Dercon, director of London's Tate Modern, on why governments need to take public art initiatives more seriously. Despite a massive fund crunch and an unexpected thunderstorm, the second edition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale opened in full strength on Friday evening, thanks to support from the world art community at large, both, monetarily and in spirit. And one of its most passionate adherents, Chris Dercon, director of the Tate Modern in London, is enthused to be present while it's still in the process of coming together. "Even two years ago, when I visited Kochi, people were saying, 'Oh, the Biennale is not ready'," he shares, when we meet on Saturday morning. "But it shouldn't be. It's about the making." The lack of public support for the arts in India riles 55-year-old Dercon, who has held top jobs at MoMA PS1 in Queens, the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, before spending eight years at Haus der Kunst, followed by his current stint at Tate. "What makes me most angry is that the government here is constantly talking about preserving heritage and tourism without giving it much support or credit," he says. "This Biennale, for instance, is contributing to tourism and economy, not only in Kerala, but also across India. One can't be short-sighted." "Culture is a human right," he says, emphatically. "It's what defines a nation. And the government needs to recognise that. They should stand for it and support it." Out here, Dercon seems particularly impressed by the "fantastic" installation created in clay, polyurethane, hay and found objects, by 26-year-old Mumbai artist Sahej Rahal, and considers artist Prajakta Potnis his "big discovery". "Her work is one of the most important at this Biennale," he believes. Yet, the three-month-long event is just one of the many Indian preoccupations Dercon indulges in. "My interest in Indian arts and crafts was ignited while working at the museum in Rotterdam because they had an important modern, contemporary and traditional design section," he shares. "Besides, I am Belgian, so I am naturally interested in textiles and fashion." His interest first drew him to the textile collection of Praful Shah (of Garden Silk Mills), who later produced a piece for Richard Tuttle's installation for the Turbine Hall at the Tate. Over the years, Dercon's interest in India has grown. "From the work I see at the museums to the Mumbai galleries as well as alternative spaces such as Clark House Initiative, my interest in Indian art is varied and many," he says. "I am also one Alibagh's biggest fans. It is home to the museum of Dashrath Patel's work run by Pinakin Patel and where famous artist Nasreen Mohamedi was buried. For me, it's a very special place." Then there is the connection with artist and Indophile, Howard Hodgkin, who, along with art historian and critic Geeta Kapur, curated the first Indian show at the Tate, back in the '80s and his friendship with ace architect and urban planner Charles Correa. Flipping through the pages of the Kochi Muziris Biennale 2014 guidebook, Dercon draws our attention to Valsan Koorma Kolleri's work, How Goes the Enemy, created in laterite, mud and baked earth. "It reminds me of what Charles told me about Indian garden architecture," he says. "This, however, is a work in progress, but very exciting to me." Another work in progress that's close to his heart is the retrospective of Bhupen Khakhar's work, that he is curating. It's set to open in June 2016. Khakhar, according to him, dealt with two significant issues - class and sexuality - that weren't openly discussed in the 1970s and 80s. "The way he dealt with sexuality, in an open and didactic way, is almost pedagogical," Dercon explains. "He tackled the subjects in a way that deviated from the international scene, combining miniature-style with the painting of tomorrow." The late Baroda-artist's work resonates with the language of the Tate, he says. So does work by artists Sheela Gowda, Sheba Chhachhi, Anita Dube, Zarina Hashmi, Bani Abidi and Naeem Mohaiemen, all acquired by the South Asian Acquisitions Committee, chaired by Delhibased collector Lekha Poddar. "We buy these works not because we want to build a South Asian wing, but because they speak to works from other countries that are housed in the museum. We want different regions to have a dialogue with one another through art," he says. "Come to think of it, this Biennale is built on that idea, too."
Original link: http://www.mumbaimirror.com/others/sunday-read/Culture-is-a-human-right/articleshow/45506801.cms?prtpage=1
The Images of the artwork wil be posted with the set just prior to the opening of the RomArt Biennale
BIOGRAPHY of TIM TAYLOR for ROMART
Tim Taylor was born in the USA and lives in the Northern Mariana Islands. He has a BA in Art, and Master’s degrees in Art and Film. His work includes painting, sculpture, and installation, and he enjoys photography and the theater. Taylor designed a Children’s Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, was an apprentice at the Johnson Atelier sculpt... [more]
Part of Amol Patil’s ongoing show explores how BMC’s sanitation workers have kept their folk art tradition alive (above) Former BMC workers Ramesh Kasare and wife Surekha, both folk dancers, break into a jig at their Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Marg chawl
Through his playwright father's scripts, artist Amol Patil discusses the parallel lives of BMC sanitation workers as folk performers. A favourite story among the locals of Lanja, a taluka in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, is that of two tasha players, a father and a son, who would stand faceto-face, playing the terracotta drum with goatskin head, while a hundred rupee note sat between them. Whoever managed to pull the note towards them with their beat took home the cash. "And the doting father always let the son win," grins Amol Patil. The 26-year-old artist has chosen to use a vibrating mud pond to replicate the story from his village at Social Theatre, a multi-media show that runs at Colaba's Clark House until December 15. Like the tasha player, who for years served as a sanitation worker with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Patil's father Kisan also worked with the civic body as dispatcher, after his father Gunaji passed away. Gunaji juggled sanitation work with being a powada shahir, a composer-singer trained in the ballad style dating back to the 17th century. "It runs through generations," says Patil, about Lanja's residents - famous for their folk art training - migrating to Mumbai as BMC employees. Since the 1890s, when the first group of Neo Buddhists made their way here lured by a home and decent pay (a sanitation worker's salary currently stands between Rs 13,000 and Rs 18,000), most have followed. "It was just after the plague had hit Bombay. They were brought in to clean the rubbish," says Patil, dispassionately. But through the show, and a documentary he is filming on the community, the Rachana Sansad graduate hopes to explore their other life - that of traditional folk performers. "My father," he says, pointing to one of the panels at the gallery depicting a scene from Kisan's play, Postcards, "was also a playwright who scripted absurdist experimental dramas that discussed how immigration ravaged the personal lives of those who left behind their family to work at Mumbai's cotton mills." Cultural face-off Sambhaji Bhagat, lokshahir and activist of the progressive cultural movement, says the link between caste, migration and folk art is historical. "Theatre was built for the Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishnavs. There was no place for women and shudras, so they became the performers, using powada, tamasha, nautanki and other folk arts to discuss their plight." When like Kisan, they migrated to Mumbai, they carried their art with them. Kisan, in fact, is remembered as the star performer at the BMC's annual cultural competition launched in 1953 by the BMC Labour Welfare Society. Since then, every December, each of the 24 BMC wards - from Colaba to Dahisar; Mulund to Mankhurd - compete for a coveted prize judged by theatre veterans like Sulabha Deshpande and Mohan Agashe. "Post Diwali, every nook of our building compound will be packed with rehearsing groups. When the stipend provided for the shows isn't enough, we shell out money," says Jitesh Pawar, a sanitation worker who runs the GSC drama group in Virar. John Wesley, divisional labour welfare officer, says the Labour Welfare Society ended up being a catalyst of change. "Fearing that most of them would pick up a vice because of the challenges of the work they did, the Society was set up. The employees requested the then welfare officer, Freni A Irani, to provide them a platform," he adds, tracing the genesis of the competition. To help sharpen their skills, professional artistes are often called in for workshops, shares chief labour officer, Shubhada Kamthe. Sweeping change Ramesh Tukaram Kasare, 60, and Surekha, 58, will agree. The former peon with Worli Municipal School and his wife, a sweeper at Hutatma Chowk, owe their passion for folk dance to their guru Kamalkar Salvi, who'd drop in to train the budding dancers. Showing off his participation certificate, Kasare says he represented the Maharashtra government as a koli dancer at the 1980 Republic Day celebrations in Delhi. Like them, another 400 families of the Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Colony, have harboured folk artistes. Deepak Jadhav, a garbage motor loader, actor and stage manager, says, "Each house has thrown up at least one artiste." His neighbour, 40-year-old garbage motor loader Mangesh Ragunath Palkar specialises in koli, shetkari geet and vaghya murli, and featured as a dancer in Shyam Benegal's Bharat ek Khoj. Mangesh Tukaram Ghadge, a sweeper at Ballard Estate, is a trained tabla player. Ghadge's father had even managed to record an instrumental number for the HMV India, back in the 1980s. "There is a saying in Marathi - the upper castes have knowledge, farmers have grains, but the untouchables have their songs. It's true. Art emerges from the grassroots," adds Bhagat. Caste in the subcontinent, explains art curator Sumesh Sharma, discriminates against the profession of the artist, "because it's associated with artisanal practice and servitude." It's the reason why several audience members at theosophist and Bharatnatyam dancer Rukmini Devi Arundale's first public performance turned up for the perverse pleasure of watching a Brahmin's daughter dance to appease an audience. It's the sort of irony Patil perhaps hopes to discuss in his show.
Original link: http://www.mumbaimirror.com/others/sunday-read/The-other-life/articleshow/24772601.cms
Top: Afshad Kelawala, Dilshad Khurana, Shahrukh Irani, Jigar Mehta, Pheroza Mody and Danesh Irani rehearse for the house-full SodaBottleOpenerWala, a play that highlights the dying Irani café culture; (Above) Jim Vimadalal (red T-shirt), who collaborated with thespian Dinyar Contractor (centre) says it was a rare opportunity for the young cast - Sanaea B, Errick Elavia, Huzan Wadia, and Rumi Zarir - to learn from the 74-year-old’s experience
After a long lull, Parsi-Gujarati theatre gets a shot in the arm with young talent from the community dishing out fresh stories, Bawa-flavoured. Last Saturday on Khordad Saal, a day when the Parsi Zoroastrian community celebrated its Prophet's birthday, the all-Bawa crew (with a few "honorary Parsis") of SodaBottleOpenerWala was ready to see the curtains rise yet again to a packed Tata Theatre. Earlier that week, the young men and women behind SiLLy PoiNt Productions, had revelled in the energy of a full house when the play about an Irani cafe and the mayhem behind the making of mawa cakes had premiered. That evening, five more Parsi-Gujarati plays - Sam Kerawalla's Hasa Has, Dinyar Contractor's Bhaag Bawa Bhaag, Dinyar Tirandaz's Darling Humna Nai, Vistasp Gotla's Savaksa Ni Sex Badlai and Cyrus Dastur's Havey Mane Joi Lav - were performed across venues. This was a first in many years, says Contractor, a veteran who has made generations of Parsis leave the auditorium smiling in time for their salli boti dinner on Pateti. "It is like a revival of some sort," he smiles, glad that the myth of Parsi theatre losing its grip is being challenged - this time, by young stage talent. The 74-year-old, whose Dinyar Contractor Productions, collaborated with Jim Vimadalal to stage Bhaag Bawa Bhaag on Navroze and the Parsi-Gujarati-Hinglish adaptation of Derek Benfield's Touch and Go in June, says the young lot bring with them sleek production values and the ability to market theatre. "The onus to take Parsi theatre forward is now on them," he says, highlighting a movement that theatre stalwarts believe has well begun. It's a serious responsibility Contractor refers to, considering the Parsis are credited with launching the modern theatre movement in India in the 1850s, influenced largely by European drama. Back in the day The earliest plays were Indianised versions of Shakespeare (Dil Farosh was an adaptation of The Merchant of Venice and Gulnar Firoze was based on Romeo and Juliet). The Parsi Natak Mandali (1853), considered the first Parsi theatre group, was owned by Gustadji Dalal and supported by Dadabhai Naoroji, K R Cama and Ardeshir Moos, among others. Companies owned by wealthy businessmen toured the country, collaborating with local talent to give rise to plays in Gujarati, Urdu and Hindi. Then, the post-independence era brought with it new writing, and the birth of thespians like Pheroze Antia, Dr Ratan Marshall, Dorab Mehta and Adi Marzban. They were credited with freeing Parsi drama from tradition, introducing realism into scripts and bringing regularity to performing. "The weekly staging was possible because Adi, for instance, had a dynamic producer like Pesi Khandalawala, who encouraged artistes," says Kerawalla. "And so, the momentum grew gradually." In 1966, when Marzban's repertoire split, several key members including prolific actor couple, Burjor and Ruby Patel, branched out, starting a Parsi wing in collaboration with the Indian National Theatre. "We did some wonderful plays like Hello Inspector, directed by Arvind Thakker. It was a thriller with a smattering of humour," recalls Patel. In 1987, he teamed up with Marzban to launch a production house. Their first venture was an American comedy, My Daughter Rated X (Marzban decided to call it My Darling Daughter), which opened at the Bhulabhai Auditorium to a full house. "Back then, it was about sophisticated humour. Plays weren't vulgar or offensive, a trait that Parsi nataks eventually became associated with," he says, referring to the gradual fading of fantasy, melodrama, folk and spectacle genres to give way to the comedy-farce routine typical of plays performed on Pateti and Navroze. Kerawalla, one of the foremost technical directors of Parsi stage, is one of the few to have continued the tradition of staging a play written or previously performed by Marzban every year. "The Tata Theatre is booked on August 18 every year. It has been a norm since the 1970s," says 82-year-old. But this was more exception than the rule. Patel says Parsi theatre was non-existent for a few decades. "Barring a handful of actors, who stayed committed to performing on festivals, I'd say, Parsi theatre skipped an entire generation". But he is quick to acknowledge that there is an effort in place to change this. In an interesting collaboration, a committee that includes Patel, his daughter and actor Shernaz Patel, writer Meher Marfatia, and Vimadalal (with support from Jam-e-Jamshed and the National Centre for the Performing Arts), is set to launch Drame Bawas. It's a community initiative to scout for talent among Parsi youth. Advertising entrepreneur Sam Balsara has volunteered to design publicity material that will be plastered across various Parsi baugs, encouraging the young to act or direct new plays. The best of the lot will be staged at the NCPA in March next year. "Our attempt is to introduce new faces on stage," says Patel. May there be more The guys behind SiLLy PoiNt are excited at having company in future. Started five years ago by four boys from St Mary's - Meherzad Patel (26), Danesh Khambata (28), Danesh Irani (24), Sajeel Parakh (26) - and a Cathedralite, Darayus Subedar (26), the production house has staged 12 plays. They say they are bound by a love for theatre, which explains the inclusion of Sharmeela Kazerouni, the 50-year-old "mum of a school friend". "She's an eye surgeon," says Meherzad Patel, "but enjoys what we do. So, she has come on board as a member." Then there is the love for laughter, which in fact, is true not just of Parsi theatre talent but the community, too. Parsis refer to slapstick humour as 'koihlu', and Irani says, "Whether we like it or not, that's what most audiences want to see, especially on happy occasions. They wish to have a laugh before they make it for dinner and drinks." Irani recalls his introduction to the natak on Parsi New Year in 2005 when he acted in Maja Mastini Mokano, after a chance meeting with veteran actor Dinyar Tirandaz, at a fire temple in Charni Road. Irani, like the other 20-yearolds in the troupe, candidly admits he wasn't gung-ho about being associated with over-the-top hackneyed humour. "And so, many decided to pursue theatre, but not necessarily Parsi nataks," says Vimadalal. Kerawalla, who is regarded as a one-man institution, having honed a generation of theatre talent from Fali Unwalla to Shernaz Patel, and Vimadalal, Khambata and Irani of Silly Point, says, slapstick wasn't responsible for Parsi theatre's decline. "Over the years, Parsis have stopped reading and writing in Gujarati. How many youngsters speak the language?" Meherzad Patel, who since 2008 has written and directed both, English and Parsi-Gujarati plays including the popular Rusty Screws and Pakar Maari Poochri, agrees. "Although I can read and write Gujarati, my scripts are always written in Roman-English," he says. It started when he had to adapt Rusty Screws into Gujarati (Screwala No Dhilo Screw) in 2011. That their scripts are able to discuss issues central to the community is reason enough for all-Bawa productions to find an audience. I'm Bawa and I Know It - a parody on LMFAO's 2011-hit number, I'm Sexy and I Know It - is a title song that has won more hits on YouTube than there are people in the dwindling community. The play is about a homosexual Parsi couple that can't get married because one of their parents is keen to move abroad, and give up their flat in a Parsi baug. "Only a Parsi with family can inherit a home in a Panchayat-controlled colony," explains Meherzad Patel. "Through humour, we have raised the issue of housing, which is a key concern in the community." The need for original scripts means writing talent also has a chance to grow. Afshad Kelawala, a 25-year-old actor who is a regular with SiLLy PoiNt, reasons that those who've watched an original Adi Marzban aren't in the mood to watch a rehash with a fresh cast. "Besides, you can command a price (a ticket at a venue like Tata costs close to Rs 1,000 for the first eight rows) only if you are staging a new play," he says, adding that novelty has worked in their favour. What they see in Parsi theatre is "still no profits, but promise." Both, Vimadalal and Gotla, believe it's crucial then to keep up the regular tempo of performances. Twentyyear-old Gotla has staged Pheroze Antia's all-time hit, Behram Ni Sassu, and his own Degree Vagar No Doctor, at Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan on days other than Parsi festivals. "It can work," says Meherzad Patel. "'Parsi' sells. Besides, if we don't talk about our culture, who will?"
Original link: http://www.mumbaimirror.com/others/sunday-read/Parsi-natak-jivto-reh/articleshow/41293533.cms
Shireen Sabavala looks at a portrait of her late husband, artist Jehangir Sabavala painted by Magda Nachman in 1942
How US professor Dr Lina Bernstein's three-year research on little-known Russian artist Magda Nachman, led her into drawing rooms of Mumbai's elite. In 2011, when a colleague researching Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, casually inquired about Russian artist Magda Nachman, Dr Lina Bernstein had little to say. However, three years later, the professor of comparative literature at Franklin & Marshall College found herself travelling more than 7,000 miles to Mumbai in search of the artist's story. Bernstein was intrigued by the legacy of Nachman, who painted a famous portrait of Tsvetaeva and another of Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita. "Yet, almost nothing was known about her aside from her association with a circle of writers and artists around Tsvetaeva," says the 64-year-old on her first visit to the city last week. "My colleague, through the course of her research, had discovered some letters from Magda to friends within this circle." It's this correspondence that led Bernstein on a journey from America to Russia, Germany, and finally to India, where she arrived in January this year. In the six weeks that Bernstein spent in Mumbai, Pune, and Baroda, she discovered 13 original portraits by Nachman, and their owners. "At the Asiatic Society of Bombay, I found old newspapers and journals with articles on Magda and her time. Homi Bhabha's archive at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research offered more insights into her life and the history of art in Bombay," she says. This material, says Bernstein, will prove crucial in her quest to reconstruct Nachman's biography that we hear will culminate in an exhibition at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sanghralaya (CSMVS), next year. Journey to Bombay Born in 1889 in St Petersburg, Nachman studied art under famous Russian artist Leon Bakst. But like most people of her generation, her life was driven around the world by the cataclysmic events of the 20th century — the Revolution of 1905, World War I, the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the Civil War. "In the letters I read, she complained about not finding kerosene, paint or brushes to work with. She used pencil and charcoal to create portraits in exchange for food," says Bernstein. In 1921, Nachman met MPT Acharya in Moscow. The Indian nationalist, who was one of the founders of the Communist Party of India, fled Chennai for London after threat of persecution by the British government. "He was part of an Indo-German conspiracy. But Germany lost the war, and the delegation moved to Moscow to convince the Bolsheviks to join them in the fight against the British," says Bernstein. Nachman and he married in 1922 and left for Germany. A little more than a decade later, Adolf Hitler was in power, and the South Indian revolutionary, along with his half-Jewish wife had to flee to Switzerland. "Magda left her paintings behind," points out Bernstein. "Almost all her work from those years has vanished. They visited Paris next, to say their goodbyes to Madam Cama (who Acharya worked with) before they sailed to Bombay in 1935." Artist to the elite The city became Nachman's home, a place where she lived, worked, made friends, and died in 1951. "Whatever art Magda created during that period, it's likely to be in Bombay," says Bernstein of the woman who became the go-to portrait artist among the elite. One of her portraits is of late artist Jehangir Sabavala, which still hangs at his Altamount Road home. As his wife Shireen fondly looks at the oil-on-board painted in 1942, she says it was the norm for families to get their portraits done, "usually by foreigners". She recalls sitting hours before Nachman for her own portrait, too. "Magda went on and on, I was bored and didn't care much about it," she smiles. "I was 18 and remember wearing a red sari with a sleeveless blouse. I was slightly plump, and she said I have the eyes of a cow. I thought that was a bit harsh." Aside from painting Dinsha Paday, Rati Petit, and Shanta Rao, Nachman showed her work at the Bombay Art Society exhibitions. She lived and worked at a house opposite artist K H Ara's Walkeshwar studio, in House No. 63. Artist Akbar Padamsee told Bernstein about a visit to Ara's studio. "All of a sudden, Akbar tells me, an angry Russian lady, whom he described as 'shortish, fattish and not beautiful' barged into the studio shouting, 'They rejected me, who are they to reject me? They don't know anything about art'." Nachman's rage was sparked by the news that she wasn't allowed to participate in an Indian art exhibition organised in 1948 in London. "She was rejected because she was considered not sufficiently Indian," smiles Bernstein.
Original link: http://www.mumbaimirror.com/others/sunday-read/Finding-Magda/articleshow/32095748.cms?prtpage=1
From top: Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be 12 times the size of the original NY outpost; Artist Ashok Sukumaran (at the centre) presenting at last week’s panel discussion; Workers on a bus to get to their shift
Artists from Mumbai join a global creative boycott to fight migrant labour exploitation in the making of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi - the mother of all museums. In many senses, the invitation to Gulf Labor - an artist advocacy group that is leading a boycott of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi - by the much-feted Venice Biennale, to participate in its 56th iteration, can be perceived as sending out a strong message to the art world at large. Gulf Labor has been striving to highlight the coercive recruitment and deplorable living and working conditions of migrant labour - a majority of them are from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka - in Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island (Island of Happiness). Saadiyat was launched in 2009 by Abu Dhabi's government as a luxury property development project where buyers could live in villas that would allow them to access world-class museums and education. A satellite campus of New York University has been operational since last year, and outposts of the Louvre, the Sheikh Zayed Museum (in partnership with the British Museum) and Guggenheim are in various stages of construction. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, estimated to cost, according to previous news reports, $800 million to build, will span 4,50,000 square feet (nearly 12 times the size of the NY landmark), in a design created by 'starchitect' Frank Gehry and overseen by the Tourism Development & Investment Company. Mumbai artists Shaina Anand and Ashok Sukumaran were among the signatories to back a petition urging Guggenheim to improve living standards of migrant labourers, which had been documented in a Human Rights Watch report. Among other signatories to the petition are Mariam Ghani, Walid Raad, Andrew Ross, Hans Haacke, Naeem Mohaiemen, and Tania Bruguera. In 2011, sensing a lack of commitment from the museum, artists decided to collectively boycott the leading contemporary art museum. Gulf Labor currently has over 1,800 signatories and is led by a 35-person central organising committee. The issue came home last week, when Anand and Sukumaran of CAMP, Kadambari Baxi of Who Builds Your Architecture (WBYA), Rajeev Thakker of the open space for experimental design and research, Studio X, Sharit Bhowmik, who is national fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), Rupali Gupte and Prasad Shetty of Collective Research Initiatives Trust (CRIT) met to discuss conditions of labour in architecture including in India and the UAE, while also addressing the problems at Saadiyat. NYU Abu Dhabi's assistant professor of theatre, Debra Levine, along with 10 students - belonging to various disciplines ranging from visual art to theatre and political science - pursuing the art, performance and social practice class at the University, were also invited to attend the panel discussion and presentation, as part of an art workshop in Mumbai. With the Guggenheim museum hoping its permanent collection will celebrate international art from the 1960s to present day - a period that reflects the world from the point of the UAE achieving nationhood - Sukumaran thinks "it's a perfect opportunity to build their multi-billion-dollar project right; use their resources justly without defaulting to a status quo of exploited labour". Andrew Ross, professor of social and cultural analysis and faculty member at NYU New York, specialising in labour issues, has been a critic of underpaid migrant labour in the UAE, writing columns on the exploitation of migrant workers building projects on Saadiyaat Island, including the NYU campus there. In an op-ed piece High Culture, Hard Labor, published in The New York Times in March 2014, he said, "Bound to an employer by the kafala sponsorship system, they (workers) arrive heavily indebted from recruitment and transit fees, only to find that their gulf dream has been a mirage. Typically, in the United Arab Emirates, the sponsoring employer takes their passports, houses the workers in substandard labour camps, pays much less than they were promised and enforces a punishing regimen under the desert sun." Last Saturday, Ross was barred from flying into the UAE. "But, what's different about my case," argues Ross over an email interview to Mirror, "is that I am an NYU professor, and since NYU has a campus there, we are supposed to enjoy protection of academic freedoms and safe passage into the UAE. They can't be in a position to decide which NYU professors they will admit and not. That is unsustainable. Could the same fate befall artists asked to participate at a museum show? Quite possibly." Parimal Sudhakar, senior project manager at the Society for Labour and Development, Delhi, defines this as a systematic problem. Most countries have a poor record of treating migrant labour, but in the Gulf states, close to 80 per cent residents are migrants with no rights. "Unfortunately, the host government, and the government of source countries have chosen to ignore the problem," he says. "Authorities in states that make up a large chunk of this labour force, including Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, often maintain no data on international migration of workers from their state." Cheated by sub-agents of recruitment firms and exploited by employers in destination countries, the workers are caught in a debt trap, making a return to home impossible. "According to the Emigration Act, 1983, a worker should be charged no more than Rs 20,000 for emigration procedure. But most end up paying over a lakh to sub-agents," says Sudhakar. Ross, who has spent a reasonable time during his scholarly research on low-wage labour, mostly in China, moved his attention to the Gulf region after NYU announced plans of a satellite campus in 2007. "My position was that the presence of the campus was an opportunity to leverage labour reforms," he explains. The average worker on Saadiyat Island makes a base (monthly) pay of only Rs 10,000 to Rs 13,000. Over time, this can go up to between Rs 15,000 and Rs 18,000. Basic math suggests that a 25 per cent increase in the wages of the 7,500 workers estimated to be involved in the Guggenheim's construction, amounts to about five million USD, "which, given the scale of an institution like the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is nothing," insists Anand. Sudhakar takes the focus away from funds to the struggle for power. "There's plenty of money in Abu Dhabi. The issue concerns power. Elites from the Emirates crave a vast servant class, 24/7. This army of workers needs to be heavily indebted and exceptionally vulnerable, in order to work under the circumstances," he says. "The second reason for hesitating to make a change has to do with setting a precedent regarding migrant worker rights. The UAE doesn't want to be the first in the region to do it." Meanwhile, the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation has distanced itself from the debate with the claim that Guggenheim Abu Dhabi "will be an independent museum owned by the government of Abu Dhabi which is in charge of and overseeing all aspects of construction. The Guggenheim's role will be to provide access to its global network of curatorial and educational resources." The TDIC is in charge of developing Saadiyat, building a 'model' worker village and drafting policies that sound noble but aren't necessarily enforced. Their claim to have built a beautiful workers' accommodation in Saadiyat - albeit five kilometres away in a far corner of the site - with a cricket field, billiards room and basketball court, is contested by Gulf Labor. Sukumaran says, "Saadiyat's village is a showcase but not a long term solution that benefits workers. Wages remain poor, and recruitment debt is rampant. Contractors have to rent these rooms, and the monthly rent here is higher than the average worker's pay." The collective has held negotiation meetings with both the Guggenheim Museum in New York and TDIC in Abu Dhabi. Turning into independent researchers, the artists provided TDIC and the Guggenheim with a report in March 2014 to support their theory, with statistics as well as site visits to labour camps for research. "A lot of malam-patti, and public relations efforts were carried out by them but the core issues remain unresolved. The museum needs to push harder for what they say they want. We do believe they have the leverage," she says. TDIC did not reply to Mirror's repeated requests for a response. The question, artists are then reiterating is; why isn't an exemplary museum built on exemplary standards? "If Guggenheim says they are lending their name and expertise to bringing global art and global educational standards to the UAE, why can't they bring basic global democratic principles? Why should that not be part of their ethos? " Anand asks.
Original link: http://www.mumbaimirror.com/others/sunday-read/Art-in-protest/articleshow/46648168.cms
THE CANETTI READING GROUP
By Adam Knight
An essay in Elias Canetti's seminal work 'Crowds and Power' becomes
the point of focus for a fictional reading group. Each character in
the group inhabits six typologies of the crowd identified by
Canetti. The work presented takes the form of a script; where
moments of awareness and a strengthening relationship to the
artwork reveal themselves.
THE CANETTI READING GROUP
Characters and classifications
A – The Chair (the crystal c... [more]
This review is translate with google
Is not the creator who is able to give life ....
Acrylic painting on cnvas
Size: 116 x 200
Acrylic painting on cnvas
Size: 60 x 80
Strolling through the expanses of the Internet, I came across a magnificent Dutch expressionist Shefqet Avdush Emini. Later, I was fortunate to get to know him and work for international ART-symposia.
Expression in color, line, and at the same time, a sense of proportion and harmony - it... [more]
On Everyday Enchantment
Enchantment. A spell wrapped in a noun. Three syllables. One state of being.
To live with Enchantment is to see beyond the brick and mortar that make up your home and into the magic infused within its frame. It is to peel back the layers of your day to day and search for that elusive energy that winds its way up your spine and outward into your life.
To learn from Enchantment is to listen to Coyote's call when he plays his tricks. He is a messenger really—t... [more]
What follows is the first chapter of a novel I've been working on for over several months. Many of my novel's chapters have been submitted to MFA fiction workshops at The New School in New York City.
The story of my novel takes place nearly 75 years past our present time. The chapter below is about one of my main characters, a painter from post apocalyptic Paris in the year 2101. It is important to note that this character lives in an asylum, which is located in the country of Aurora (post apo... [more]