Look Inside

Volume 67 Number 1, September-December 2015

Volume 67 Number 1

Editorial Note
Monisha Ahmed

Perspectives
Subaltern Rustle: Raqs Media Collective, the Colour Blue and the Colonial Archive
Natasha Eaton

Book Art: Contemporary Practices in the Indian Subcontinent
Amit Kumar Jain and Ruhanie Perera

Photo Essay
The (Un) Making of a Man: The Work of Baptist Coelho
Janice Pariat

Profile
Finding Home: The Worlds of Siona Benjamin
Ori Z. Soltes

Focus
The Maarak and the Tradition of Imambadas in Kashmir
Hakim Sameer Hamdani

Ancillary
The Digital Reunification of a 17th-century Ramayana Manuscript from Mewar
Roda Ahluwalia

Exhibition Review
Collecting Paradise: Buddhist Art of Kashmir and its Legacies
Monisha Ahmed

Book Reviews
India: Jewels that Enchanted the World, by Usha R. Balakrishnan, Larisa Peshekhonova, Diana Scarisbrick, Olga Vecherina
Anjali Devidayal

Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, edited by John Guy
Parul Pandya Dhar

World of Khusrau: Innovations and Contributions, edited by Shakeel Hossain
Mumtaz Currim

Jews and the Indian National Art Project, edited by Kenneth X. Robbins and Marvin Tokayer
Rivka Israel

Books Received

Contributors

Thematic Advertisement
Ebrahim Alkazi b.1925
Amal Allana

Thematic Ad Portfolio: Ebrahim Alkazi
Allana, Amal
Vol. 67 No. 1, September-December 2015, 3 unnumbered + pp. 1–9

Alongside a flourishing career in theatre and dramatic pedagogy, Ebrahim Alkazi kept alive his interest in the visual arts. This article focusses on the latter, highlighting the Art Heritage gallery started by Alkazi and the work it supported; and the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts and the Alkazi Collection of Photography that has created a rich resource out of the man’s personal archive of paintings and photographs.

BUY PDF:   75 (INR) / $ 2 (USD)
Editorial Note
Ahmed, Monisha
Vol. 67 No. 1, September-December 2015, p. 10

The editorial notes the passing of Charles Correa, premier architect and trustee of the Marg Foundation, and mentions the highlights of this non-thematic issue. 

BUY PDF:   75 (INR) / $ 2 (USD)
Subaltern Rustle: Raqs Media Collective, the Colour Blue and the Colonial Archive
Eaton, Natasha
Vol. 67 No. 1, September-December 2015, pp. 12-21

This essay explores contemporary artists Raqs Media Collective’s critical engagement with the British colonial archive through the t(a)inted lens of the colour blue. In the last few decades blue has become an important and lyrical resource for contemporary artists and filmmakers – most prominently Derek Jarman whose final works on blindness, autobiography and Yves Klein call upon what he sees as its meditative qualities. Such an approach however fails to consider the violent, ludic, global genealogies of blue – a view taken up by Raqs in their recent looped video installations of 2011 – “An Afternoon Unregistered on the Richter Scale” and “The Untold Intimacy of Digits”. These two works, which form the subject of the essay, engage intensely with the “found colonial object” – primarily with a reproduction of a British photograph of Indian Trigonomical surveyors at work which led Raqs to explore the Galton Collection at University College London in their search for an explanation of the forensics of blue. Here they discovered a murky blue in the image of a coerced handprint. Blue, the writer argues, is a “subaltern rustle” in Raqs’ work; it forces us to revisit the exploitative indigo economy in eastern India; revolution and Gandhian non-violence; at the same time it acts as a mnemonic device for the artists’ more general excurses on memory.

BUY PDF:   75 (INR) / $ 2 (USD)
Book Art: Contemporary Practices in the Indian Subcontinent
Jain, Amit Kumar and Perera, Ruhanie
Vol. 67 No. 1, September-December 2015, pp. 22-33

This essay seeks to look upon the book as an art object and at the many interpretations of “book art” and its cultural and political agency, the ultimate project being to extend the thinking to contemporary exhibition-making and curating in the South Asian region. It looks at the evolution of the book as an art object, tracing its origins back to the tablets in Mesopotamia, the papyrus scrolls in Egypt and the codex created by the Romans. It discusses the embellished books and illuminated manuscripts through the ages across Europe and Asia, additionally noting how post World War II, the artist’s book became a tool for political and social comment. In the context of this kind of reimagination of the book, the essay draws attention to the massive range of artistic experimentation offered in the works of artists like Banoo Batliboi, Tanmoy Samanta, Ravi Kumar Kashi, Amit Ambalal, Samanta Batra Mehta, Samit Das and Kingsley Gunatillake. The essay closes with a commentary on how book art can be seen as giving the book a new expressive power, a renewal of existence.   

BUY PDF:   75 (INR) / $ 2 (USD)
The (Un)Making of a Man: The Work of Baptist Coelho
Pariat, Janice
Vol. 67 No. 1, September-December 2015, pp. 34-43

This photo essay brings into focus some of the photographs of mixed media artist Baptist Coelho which explore the hardships of military life, enquiring specifically into the lone figure of the soldier – in particular those stationed at the Siachen Glacier. Janice Pariat’s text begins with a poignant description of a photograph which found its way into the hands of the artist and triggered his interest in the human condition within the realm of war and conflict. The works discussed in the essay highlight Coelho’s attempts to counter the violence of the reality of the associated places with images of healing; in order to humanize these “supermen”, they strip the soldier down to the skin revealing his extreme vulnerability – the photographs, mixed media installations and video art mentioned here ultimately point to the artist’s attempts to move away from the dominant narrative of constructed nationalism and drift towards the human.  

BUY PDF:   75 (INR) / $ 2 (USD)
Finding Home: The Worlds of Siona Benjamin
Soltes, Ori Z.
Vol. 67 No. 1, September-December 2015, pp. 44-55

Siona Benjamin’s art offers a unique synthesis, its vocabulary simultaneously personal and universal. Born in 1960 into the Marathi-speaking Bene Israel Jewish community of Mumbai, she grew up in a country dominated by often separate Hindu and Muslim cultures – a girl in a society still finding its way toward equal status for women – and attended Catholic and Zoroastrian schools. She came to America, lived first in the Midwest and then moved to New Jersey, very different environments within a country with its own still-unanswered questions regarding religion, gender, ethnicity and race.

Siona’s art both draws from and defies the traditions of South Asian art, including Mughal, Rajput, and contemporary schools of painting. It draws inspiration from Bollywood posters and American Pop Art. It engages the question of whether to define Jewish art as religious, ethnic, nation or cultural. It encompasses feminist issues of acceptance and rejection within male-dominated societies, and also in the Western-hegemonic feminist movements within those societies.

BUY PDF:   75 (INR) / $ 2 (USD)
The Maarak and the Tradition of Imambadas in Kashmir
Hamdani, Hakim Sameer
Vol. 67 No. 1, September-December 2015, pp. 56-69

Maarak, the historic imambada of Kashmir, represents the Shi’a identity of Kashmir, its cultural achievements and an architectural genre that was introduced in the region in the 15th century. Historically, till its reconstruction in the 20th century, the building also marked an enduring visual link between a past and a rapidly changing urbanscape in the city of Srinagar. Looking at the history of the imambada and the patrons behind it, the article traces its history, architectural and cultural significance as well as the way in which it served as a prototype for construction of other major imambadas in the region. Highlighting the building as a historical prototype rooted in local traditions of building, the article reflects on contemporary issues and challenges which are adversely affecting the region’s built heritage and how it may be addressed.

BUY PDF:   75 (INR) / $ 2 (USD)
The Digital Reunification of a 17th-century Ramayana Manuscript from Mewar
Ahluwalia, Roda
Vol. 67 No. 1, September-December 2015, pp. 70-79

In 2011 the CSMVS, Mumbai and the British Library, London proposed a reunification and digitization of an illustrated 17th-century Valmiki Ramayana manuscript from Mewar. All folios were mounted on the web as a resource for scholars, students and educators of Indian Art, Sanskrit literature and religious and cultural studies. The British Library managed the project overall while the CSMVS was responsible for co-ordinating all activities in India. The software program “Turning The Pages” (TTP) which allows the user to leaf through the pages of the manuscript in a highly realistic manner, was used for the web mounting. The project was completed in 2014. The British Library holds 555 folios from 5 volumes of the manuscript, the CSMVS Mumbai, Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute (RORI) at Jodhpur, a private collector and the Baroda Museum hold 145 folios. The master artist Sahibdin has been lauded for his innovative and dynamic illustrations in this Ramayana manuscript. 

BUY PDF:   75 (INR) / $ 2 (USD)
Collecting Paradise: Buddhist Art of Kashmir and Its Legacies
Ahmed, Monisha
Vol. 67 No. 1, September-December 2015, pp. 80-83

This essay is a review of an exhibition curated by Rob Linrothe on Buddhist art of Kashmir and its legacies. Focusing upon the period from the 7th to the 17th centuries, the exhibition looks at the impact of Kashmiri art on Buddhist culture of the Western Himalaya and the desire to collect that art among residents of that region and Western scholars. The extensive catalogue focuses upon collectors like Giuseppe Tucci and Walter Koelz, their collecting practices and the importance of their collections. 

BUY PDF:   75 (INR) / $ 2 (USD)
Book Reviews
Vol. 67 No. 1, September-December 2015, pp. 84-91

India: Jewels that Enchanted the World by Usha R. Balakrishnan, Larisa Peshekhonova, Diana Scarisbrick and Olga Vecherina, reviewed by Anjali Devidayal; Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia by John Guy, with essays by Pierre Baptiste, Lawrence Becker, Bérénice Bellina, Robert L. Brown, Federico Carò, Pattaratorn Chirapravati, Janet G. Douglas, Arlo Griffiths, Agustijanto Indradjaya, Le Thi Lien, Pierre-Yves Manguin, Stephen A. Murphy, Ariel O’Connor, Peter Skilling, Janice Stargardt, Donna Strahan, U Thein Lwin, Geoff Wade, U Win Kyaing, Hiram Woodward and Thierry Zéphir, reviewed by Parul Pandya Dhar; World of Khusrau: Innovations & Contributions edited by Shakeel Hossain, reviewed by Mumtaz Currim; Jews and the Indian National Art Project edited by Kenneth X. Robbins and Marvin Tokayer, edited by Rivka Israel.

BUY PDF:   75 (INR) / $ 2 (USD)