Clark House Initiative at Thomas Erben
One day Pop-up Show, Tuesday, October 18, starting at 10 am
Lecture Performance at 6:30 pm
Prabhakar Barwe along with many artists worked at Bombay's Weaver Centre. Pupul Jayakar sent Bhaskar Kulkarni to India's East , to the state of Bihar's Mithila region to salvage those dying of a famine caused by floods and droughts by offering them coarse handmade paper where the women of the village would draw out folk motifs and scenes from lore. Soon these had become Independent forms of Indian art that we exported to the various Festivals of India that became an apparatus of Indian diplomacy and Non-Aligned Soft Power. This gave birth to the 'Magiciens de la Terre' at the Centre George Pompidou and the unfortunate suicide of Gondh Artist Jangarh Singh Shyam in Tokyo's Mithila Museum. But another death. On the Cairo airport one comes across thousands of painted scrolls, many pyramids sculpted in stone, vases , beads , Pharaohic charms etc. but none exist in Egypt as invested living cultures, we in India turned living examples of culture as the final onslaught of the the colonial residue held by an Independent Republic and turned them into commodities of mass production. Eventually like all commodities they become unessential and are phased out.
Therefore statements written out on French Muslin using Turkish Coffee stains, assemblage of Cairo Airport Souvenirs, alongside hand-stitched sleeved of Khadi shirts joined by mass produced Indian cotton that bear blue stripes we have a saree. The saree is the sarong worn by Indian women, though much longers as it drapes. Here videos taken of Aruna in 1960 by Chaturbhuj a young entrepreneur and film enthusiast roll along with clips of Nasser's visit to Bombay. These movies were later digitised by CAMP. Random screenshots are taken of the movie on the website where Chaturbhuj's archive sits and given to a data operator in a photo-copy shop who arranges the series of low resolution images into a the size of a saree that is then printed on faux silk now readily available to be used for banners and saris. Cheap mass printed ones. Objectification is a p[patriarchal gaze as much as is exotification of the object. Are aesthetics distributed as commodities or finance? The back drop of the movie is Marine Drive and an Army – Navy Drill with fighter planes and helicopters. But one notices the floats probably made and designed by the Sir JJ School of Art – Artists. They have an aspiration for Modernism, in order to build the stepping stones towards a republic. A republic for Egypt , Syria and India. Today we watch Vice news , Videos on Youtube , on television of the destruction of monuments and cities and most importantly of lives. This is a distribution of moving images. Like the brilliant facades of Marine Drive which are Art Deco like Miami falling behind in the second position. American architects began to send designs to a Bombay of the 1930s as the post war boom in India began with its many mills. We digitise a found 16mm film from the Bombay's Chor Bazaar that we record while watching it for the first time guessing its locations at times we get it right and at last we get it amusingly wrong. It features and Indian family on their flight to the West Coast of America and Disney Land by way of a stopover in Hong Kong.
Clark House acts as an artist , the collective includes these questions of distribution ,global capital , aesthetics and our present aspirations towards modernism or conceptual practices and how we invert these linear art histories to our benefit. For we are based in Bombay where many unauthored small businesses survive alongside big corporates who are very visible. Accessibility and movement are a still of cause of crisis either professionally, socially , or across the Mediterranean. Like the image in the film that survives as witness account in 16mm , is numerated and made into Digital Film, Screen Shots create stills, that are Facebooked and then arranged and reprinted on the faux-silk always changing materiality but containing the same visual that we havent authored but rather re-represented , Clark House authors this project made by multiple artists and collaborators in solidarity with the numerous content creators who are forgotten as artisans, assistants, researchers, hawkers, carpenters, tailors, fabricators – among many others in the process of making the object of distribution for the art market. Clark House is where we gather to think , produce and diffuse commonly and individually enacting a collective act.
Clark House will like to thank CAMP specially Shaina Anand & Ashok Sukumaran with whom the collective has collaborated on projects and in doing so has been able to conceptualize and produce as artists. The video archive from which we procured the screen shots for the saree was digitized by CAMP in 2014 using 16mm video reels in the Clark House office archive. Last year we worked with CAMP on a large cyanotype map ‘ Country of the Sea’, at that juncture we came to voice our common concerns as an aesthetic. Though Clark House as an artist union celebrates individual voices, artist collaborations are found in every show, at Thomas Erben we show for the first time works drawn up together. Ashok Sukumaran once did a solo project at the Thomas Erben gallery, Clark House debuts with its first collective exhibition purposefully in the same space.