“Homelands” exhibit in Delhi examines identity through art
Indians give high importance to the concept of identity and kinship, especially in a land that is home to hundreds upon hundreds of different languages and ethnic groups. Indian curator Latika Gupta explores this theme in “Homelands”, an exhibition of works by 28 leading contemporary British artists, all wrestling with the idea of what “home” means in the 21st century.
The artists whose works are displayed include four Turner Prize winners, Jeremy Deller, Richard Long, Grayson Perry and Gillian Wearing. Work by World Press Photo (2007) winner Tim Hetherington, who was killed in Libya, also is on display.
“I wanted to see what it is that makes up our idea of what our identity is. Is it our language that we speak? Is it the place that we come from?” said Gupta. “The exhibition really hopes to raise a set of questions rather than provide answers.”
The theme of the exhibition holds special relevance to Indians, Gupta said.
“Most of the works in the exhibition, the themes that the art addresses, find complete resonance with us here, especially questions of language, family ties, communities, religion. These are the things that we most often use to define ourselves as Indians,” she said.
The exhibition features more than 80 works of photography, painting, print, video and sculpture drawn from the permanent collection of The British Council. It runs at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Janpath, until Feb. 14. It will go on display in Kolkata in March, Mumbai in April and Bangalore in the last week of June.
A photograph by Suki Dhanda from the series “Shopna” (2002). Shopna, a 15-year-old Bangladeshi-British girl, was photographed with her friends and family over the course of a year to explore nuances of the public and private lives of Muslims in the UK.
The next picture is taken from Tim Hetherington’s series “Dem Ol Bod Ose: Creole Architecture of Sierra Leone” (2004), where he documented West African history through the fast-disappearing Creole architecture in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Below is a work by Turner Prize-winner Grayson Perry, who is known for his ceramic vases. Titled “Village of Penians” (2001), the fantasy village on the vase brings together indigenous totemic symbols such as the phallus, and scenes from village life, nature and toys.
Next is Angus Bolton’s “Untitled II” from the series “The Homeless London” (1995-2000). The project documents the plight of homeless people who sleep in temporary shelters across London.
In Anthony Haughey’s untitled work from the series “Home” (1991-92), the artist shows a portrait of daily life of families who lived on the Ballymun housing estate in Dublin.
Nathan Coley’s hardboard creation “Camouflage Bayrakli Mosque” (2007). The Bayrakli Mosque was built during the Turkish occupation of Belgrade in the late 16th century. It was later converted to a Catholic Church under Austrian rule and then reverted to a mosque. Coley’s camouflage version reflects the chequered and contested history of the edifice.