Spotlight India: London Design Biennale

12:19:00 PM

ChakraView at the London Design Biennale at Somerset House.

Circular forms, traditional textiles and ancient mythology weave together a sense of modern India in Chakraview. "India's utopias articulate the intersections between ancient myth and modern design", says curator Rajshree Pathy. "Like the seven chakras, our visions of utopia are simultaneously spiritual and progressive." Pathy wanted mythology to work in dialogue with contemporary design developments; with leading scenographer Sumant Jayakrishnan, she explored the continuities between India's past and future, myth and reality. "Like More's Utopia," Pathy explains, "or installation is a narrative of India's diverse religious, social and political journeys and a constantly metamorphosing churn of all the above".

My view: The theme was 'Utopia'. I saw installations by several countries, interpreting Utopia from very fresh and interesting perspectives.  Looking to the future, ideas for a better society. What I saw India display was yet another decade old rendition of 'Truck Art'. The stereotypical representation of India as being the land of loud and tacky colours. Maybe it was done for an audience of the West who probably lap up this grand visual depiction of India. The most used and abused adjectives 'kitsch, quirky, pop art', in other words - A gigantic Bollywood set.

Made popular by Krsna Mehta more about two decades ago, rehashed in various forms through the years- mugs, cushion covers, t shirts. Same old versions of Indian Truck Art typography.

Where is the art of New Contemporary India. Is there even such a thing? Where are those artists represented? Is this really our vision of Utopia?  Isn't it ironic that we are stuck in our own Chakravyuh ?

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