#TSTP (The Survival To Posterity, April 15, 2018):
What’s posterity ever done for you? What survives in the long run? How did (public) museums come to be from private collections? Who owns the past? Do we transact with the invisible sacral world via these accumulations? How is the integrity of (say) sounds preserved and meanings imbued in them? What makes chants memorable? Can objects be looked at as mere postulations? Are ‘art’ objects pointers to a certain moment in time in the artist’s life? How stable are museums – do objects sometimes end up in a bonfire there? Can art survive only by including the possibility of its own change (& even death)? Does making something also allow one to move forward? What is not heritage? Do narratives precede collection? What do we look past? How does a proverb work? Why do non-Brahmins chant? How are histories localized? What happens outside museums and galleries, & how is that taken ‘in’? Are devotion and detachment different? Does the present need the past; & is the past always ‘here’? Are we worried about forgetting? Will we keep traveling from the particular to the universal? How can you postpone somebody else’s death? What is the future of the past? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from folklore studies (Dr. M. D. Muthukumaraswamy, National Folklore Support Centre, Chennai), art (Sudarshan Shetty, Mumbai), & art history (Prof. Kavita Singh, JNU, New Delhi).
SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TSTP show.
Dr. M. D. Muthukumaraswamy (folklore studies) has been working as the Director of National Folklore Support Centre (NFSC), Chennai, from its inception in 1997. He is also well known as a Tamil writer and playwright, and has published several books including short stories, plays, literary criticisms, articles on folklore and one novel. He also holds visiting professorships with University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and University of Wurzburg, Germany. His research is focused on disciplines such as anthropology, linguistics, art and literary criticism, social history and philosophy. Prior to NFSC, he worked as a consultant with Ford Foundation (New Delhi), and also taught at St. Xavier’s College (Palayamkottai, Tamil Nadu), where he established the audio visual folklore archive. Dr. Muthukumaraswamy holds a Master’s degree in English Language and Literature and received a Ph.D. for his doctoral dissertation on ‘Semiotic analysis of Bharathakoothu: A study in theatrical communication’. He is now pursuing his D.Philos. from the University of Oslo, Norway. He has also been invited to present at numerous venues across the world, such as, Stanford University (2004), University of Wurzburg (2008), & the UNESCO Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage, South Korea (2013, 2014). His publications include edited volumes ‘Voicing Folklore: Careers, Concerns and Issues’, ‘Folklore as Discourse’ and the co-edited volume ‘Folklore, Public Sphere and Civil Society’. He has also translated extensively from English to Tamil on literature, semiotics and folklore. He currently edits three journals, ‘Indian Folklife’, ‘Indian Folklore Research Journal’ and ‘Encyclopaedia Indica Kids: Culture and Ecology’. He has served on the international editorial advisory committee for ‘The Greenwood Encyclopaedia of World Folklore and Folklife’. As the Director of All India Tata Fellowships in Folklore, Dr. Muthukumaraswamy has guided thirty scholars to research, document and archive folklore in collaboration with fifteen Indian Universities.
Sudarshan Shetty (art) is a contemporary Indian artist based out of Mumbai. His art has evolved over the years from being centred on painting to multi-media explorations that include sculpture, video, performance and installation, and combine the representational and the abstract. He has exhibited widely in India and has more recently become increasingly visible on the international contemporary arts stage (Japan, Singapore, Korea, UK, & USA, among others). Sudarshan completed his BFA in Painting from Sir J. J. School of Art in 1985. In 1999, he was the only Indian artist commissioned to make a public sculpture (Home and Away) in Fukuoka, Japan, as a part of Hakata Reverain Art Project, curated by Fumio Nanjo. Among his solo shows are ‘The pieces earth took away’ (Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna,2012), ‘listen outside this house’ (GALLERYSKE, Bangalore, 2011), ‘Between the tea cup and a sinking constellation’ (Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris, 2011), ’this too shall pass’ (Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai, 2010), and ‘The more I die the lighter I get’ (Tilton Gallery, New York, 2010). Sudarshan’s work was featured in ‘Paris-Delhi-Bombay’ presented at the Centre Pompidou (Paris) and at ‘India Inclusive’ in World Economic Forum (Davos). In 2010, Sudarshan was a part of ‘Contemplating the Void: Interventions’ exhibition curated by Nancy Spector at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York) and in ‘Indian Highway’ at the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art (Herning, Denmark, 2010). He was also the curator of the 2016 Kochi-Muzirs Biennale. His works are a part of many important public collections including the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (India), and the FC MoCA (Frank Cohen Museum of Modern Art, Manchester, UK). He has been a resident at the Mattress Factory (Pittsburgh, USA, 2007), a Ford Foundation Fellow at the New School for General Studies (New York, USA, 2006), and has also received the Charles Wallace India Award, Art Space (Bristol, UK, 1999).
Prof. Kavita Singh (art history) is Professor of Art History at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. Her research interests are the history of Indian painting, the history and politics of museums and heritage, colonial history, repatriation, secularism and religiosity, fraught national identities, and the memorialization of difficult histories as they relate to museums and other sites of cultural representation in South Asia and beyond. Prof. Singh completed here M.F.A in Art History from M. S. University, Baroda, and then completed a Ph.D. in Art History from Panjab University. In her writings on Indian painting, she has been interested in combining formalism with social history, arguing for a political reading of artistic styles. She has co-edited seven books and published three monographs, including, ‘Museums, Heritage, Culture: Into the Conflict Zone’ (Reinwardt Academy, Amsterdam University of the Arts, 2015), ‘InFlux: Contemporary Art in Asia’ (coedited with, Parul Dave Mukherji & Naman Ahuja, Sage Publications, 2014), and ‘New Perspectives on Sikh Art’ (Marg Publications, 2003). She has had fellowships and grants from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (2015-2016), the Ministry of Culture, India (2011), the Max Planck Institute (2009-2014), the Getty Foundation (2005), the Victoria and Albert Museum (1996), and the Asia Society (1997-1998). She has been on the advisory board of a number of international journals including ‘Art History’ (Journal of Association of British Art Historians), ‘The Archives of Asian Art’ (University of Hawaii Press), ‘Artibus Asiae’ (Museum Rietberg Zurich), and ‘de Arte’ (Visual Arts Journal of the Witwatersrand, University of South Africa Press). She has also curated exhibitions at the San Diego Museum of Art (USA), the Devi Art Foundation, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and the National Museum of India.
Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.
#TSTP mentions: Gorakhnath, Kabir, Milman Parry, Werner Herzog, Groucho Marx, Krzysztof Pomian, & Alf Hiltebeitel, among others.