While a lack of art institutions has restricted artists to galleries and museums, renowned contemporary artist Sudarshan Shetty says there is a need to come up with more places to hold exhibitions.

“We have to reconfigure and look beyond the spaces like museums and galleries. Although we all talk about being out of gallery space here, it doesn't make much sense to me because we do not have enough institutions outside these places.

“It is better that we carry forward with operating inside as well as outside of these places with a realisation that the whole process is 'lateral' and not 'pyramidal' in nature,” Shetty said during a conversation, “Art Matters” at India International Center here.

The artist also found it to be a complex process to exhibit in museums when he thought of doing a show at Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai.

“I have a lot of question while thinking about museums as institutions. When I was thinking of doing a show in Bhau Daji Lad Museum, the first brief given was to respond to the objects there.

“I found that many objects were not dated whereas others didn't have information about where did they come from. It was quite strange to notice those things and the process became more and more complex to think about a show in that museum,”

The artist, who curated the recently concluded Kochi- Muziris Biennale and invited poets and litterateurs to participate besides artists, believes poetry and literature have played an inspirational role in his artistic journey.

“For me, it was an opportunity to get the poets at the Biennale and create a physical space. It was not just a literary experience because poetry encompasses all.

“Even the sessions at the Biennale were converted into conversations and opened up in a way which were related to the art world. The presence of literature and poetry at the Biennale became central to the essence of it,” he said.

Shetty, who recently displayed his multi-media project “Shoonya Ghar” at National Gallery of Modern Art here, says the work was an interpretation of feeling “meaningless” by using abundance of images.

“The project came out of an interpretation to create something with abundance of images and yet present a feel that it was all meaningless,” he said.

The work inspired by a poetic verse of 12th century poet Gorakhnath includes a film, enacting scenes in which drama mobilises conventions of representing birth, death, dance, play, music and violence in local traditions of story-telling.

Shetty says it was challenging to cut short fourteen hours footage into an hour and yet remain close to the theme.

“When I was working on the project, I wanted to make a 25 min short video but it didn't work. We had fourteen hours of footage and we ended up editing it maximum to an hour. It took us 18 months to write the script itself,” he said.

The discussion was part of a running series of panel discussions and dialogues on arts and culture organised by Raza Foundation.