Unmooring the nation: A global ethnography of the spread of modern and contemporary art from India
What does it mean to display, circulate and sell art in the 21st century? And what does it mean to do this out of the global south?
The politics of presence produced by the circulation of modern and contemporary art out of India since the 2000s is at the core of my book monograph entitled Unmooring the nation: A global ethnography of the spread of modern and contemporary art from India. The book is the outcome of a research project started over a decade ago under the Framing the Global (FdG) initiative at Indiana University. For this project, I carried out fieldwork on five exhibitions (or series of them) held at biennales, museums and galleries in Asia, Europe and the USA and several digital spaces. Exhibitions are as follows: ‘The Empire strikes back: Indian art today’ (London, 2010), the India Pavilions at the Venice Biennale (2011-2019), the Mumbai Pavilion at the Shanghai Biennale (2012), the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) (2012-2022), and ‘After midnight: Indian modern and contemporary art 1947-1997’ at the Queens Museum in New York (2015).
The book argues that the terrains over which the politics around art from India is transacted in contemporary times and its ripple effect globally cannot be traced back to a single oppositional logic that pits the ‘postcolony’ against ‘Europe’. This is because the globalization of the art world has opened up a broader dialogue between ‘India and the rest’ – unsettling India’s historical geopolitical and economic interests. This leads to ‘nation’ being differently projected and spoken about according to the diverse locations in which art from India is exhibited and traded. While ‘nation’ is unmoored through the geographical movements of art, rather than disappearing, it re-configures itself under novel semblances by virtue of global art world dynamics in physical and digital spaces. Unmooring the nation is under contract with Indiana University Press.
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