20 million people of Indian origin shifted countries in 20th and 21st centuries. Implicit in the term Diaspora are the concepts of change and adaptation. Cultural dislocation often produces unexpected and powerful results. Subject matter is often drawn from the country of origin, while many of the aesthetic values and political concerns come from the artists’ newfound situations.
Many Indian artists went abroad after India’s independence from British rule. These artists grappled with dual aesthetic concerns (modernity versus tradition), and with the complex issue of identity. The Diaspora artists had to create an authentic artistic language possessing Indian aesthetic components in order to be taken seriously by critics, as well as reconcile the issues associated with being minorities. Today’s Diaspora artists are scattered across the country and more socio-economically and religiously diverse than their predecessors. These artists are working to make themselves heard in an art world that is at once more competitive and more receptive to non-Western art than ever before. Reeta Karmarkar, a California-based artist, says, “The IAAC recognizes and allows Indian artists to showcase their individual works to a mainstream audience. Indian art does not need to be folkloric and through the IAAC works such as mine are taken seriously even if they don’t fit the stereotypical image of what Indian art is perceived to be.”
The artists in this exhibition will meld Indian and Western colors and forms in many media, namely painting, sculpture, and photography. They will also grapple with diverse subject matter, including: AIDS, poverty, identity as a South Asian living in the post-9/11 world, in addition to their religious, sexual, and ethnic identities. Aroon Shivdasani, Executive Director and Founding Member of IAAC, says, “This is the fourth annual exhibition of its kind organized by the Indo-American Arts Council, `Erasing Borders’ articulates the interests and concerns of Diaspora artists living in contemporary society. Not unlike their predecessors, they have also drawn on subject matter from India while referencing the socio-political conditions of their current environment.”
Reeta Karmarkar, Vijay Kumar, Bivas Chaudhuri, Satish Joshi, Siona Benjamin, Tara Sabharwal, Nitin Mukul, Ela Shah, Vinod Dave, Nandini Chirimar, Antonio Puri, Anna Bhushan, Delna Dastur, Niyeti Chadha, Alka Mukerji, Yamini Nayar.
Curated by Vijay Kumar.