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Pictures of desolation

Sarah Berry |

Curator Premjish aptly conveys the objective of ‘A Preview to Desolation’ ~ a contemporary art show he has curated at the Italian Embassy Cultural Centre, featuring acclaimed Italian and Indian artists ~ when he says: “‘Bad new days’ is an apt way to describe the times we inhabit. In the last few decades, unprecedented economic, political and social turbulence have resulted in a climate rife with insecurity and precarity: an atmosphere of intolerance, which thwarts any form of debate, engagement and dissent, virtues associated with a democratic society. Historic amnesia is favoured over historic memory.”

The exhibition imagines the contemporary as a desolate landscape, a terrain stripped of hope and peace. Quests for justice, equality and asylum have become more important than ever, but these struggles are always met with dismissal and brutal crackdown. Nine artists have responded to this topic, which is of utmost importance, through their works.

The exhibition aims at establishing a people-topeople connect by encouraging the general public, especially students to connect and engage with the works. It is to serve this objective that talks and interactions with artists were also organised.

Was it a challenge to select artists and works for putting together the exhibition? “Yes, it definitely was a challenge to get artists who also think similarly and are sensitive to the core message of this exhibition. Political sensitivity is required to ally with these issues and concerns. In fact, artists included in this show are constantly working to make the artworks more active and participatory, in terms of their involvement in the material processes behind the creation of an artwork and an exhibition.

“I am, indeed, fortunate to have found such a group of artists, both from Italy and India, who responded to this exhibition through their brilliant works.”

The exhibition, organised by the Italian Embassy Cultural Centre in collaboration with Mojarto, an NDTV venture, was received with curiosity. Visitors paused and reflected on the core message of the artworks, sometimes agreeing and sometimes not, thereby initiating a discussion, which is the objective of this exhibition.

“Theme of great actuality and urgency is the one ground on which the curator Premjish has invited the artists,” says Alessandra Bertini Malgarini Director, Italian Embassy Cultural Centre. “The contemporary world is without doubt in a state of anxiety and breathlessness: everybody and everything, every city, nature and all beings are living in a state of uninterrupted continuous change ~ changes that may not always make them feel better or good, that are not completely and easily accepted or shared, but are nevertheless inevitable.

“I would said that the use of different media represent this condition beautifully. Unknown, evanescence, transformation, emigration are recurrent and common words in their answers to the question of how they see contemporaneity.”

The works ~ and the thought behind them ~ allow the observer or viewer to clearly perceive the awareness of the importance of art as a great political force that suggests, induces, stimulates, manifests, proposes, changes, articulates and empowers those who produce it and those who partake in it.

Alessandra adds: “Art in a continuous dialogue makes friendship, care and respect possible. And we cannot do without them even in a time of great change.”