Gripping works of art to be presented by a group of youngsters in a new show

Gripping works of art to be presented by a group of youngsters in a new show

By BHUMIKA POPLI | | 22 July, 2017
art, art exhibition, cultural spectrum, Hanif Kureshi, Sabih Mohd Ahmed, Serendipity Arts Trust, Utsa Hazarika
Stills from Rites of Passage 2016 by Utsa Hazarika.
A new art exhibition aims to provide a platform to young artists who are willing to engage with difficult themes concerning nature and society through their art, and foster connections across a wider cultural spectrum, writes Bhumika Popli.
A range of captivating artworks, which resulted from an interdisciplinary arts residency programme, Dharti, will be on display at the Serendipity Arts Trust, New Delhi. The exhibition is scheduled to be held between 28 July and 5 August, and will showcase promising works of art by young talents.
A total of six artists were selected from hundreds of applicants from all over the country. The jury members comprised well-established practitioners such as Hanif Kureshi, Manisha Parekh, Rahaab Allana, Rasika Kajaria and Sabih Mohd Ahmed.
The show is themed on “The Self in Self-Sufficiency”, and aims to provide artists with tools which further allow freedom to move between both practice and sustainability. The idea is to provide a platform for creative sustainable development where the art, the artist and the community can co-exist, and foster connections across a wide spectrum of people and networks.
This year’s theme also focuses on contrasting viewpoints. In contemporary times, where one is expected to be self-sufficient and to fend for themselves, societies and cultures and art, could all be seen facilitating engagement and human connections. The theme challenges the viewers with questions like: can art be created in a vacuum? How removed or engaged does the artist need to be so as to create at his or her best potential?
The jury members selected a total of six artists for the present show.This year’s artists include Deepak Agasthya (Karnataka), Kumaresan Selvaraj (Chennai), Priyanka Das (Hyderabad), Biplab Sarkar (Delhi), Suryakanta Swain (Delhi) and Utsa Hazarika (Delhi).
Guardian 20 caught up with Utsa Hazarika, who attended the three month long residency in New Delhi. 29-year-old visual artist Hazarika’s practice is shaped by academic studies in social anthropology and philosophy. She holds an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and an M. Phil. in social anthropology. Her artworks arise out of the intersections of anthropology and art.
She says, “My work has been influenced by studies of deconstruction in social analysis, and this is reflected in my approach to narrative, and in the kinds of images I have tried to create. The content of my work also draws on the anthropological focus on social spaces, structures and identities, while my method for sound and video recording largely relies on an ethnographic approach to observation.”
At the exhibition she will be showcasing her video work in progress, Two Yards of Delhi. The final version will be screened at Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa in December.
Hazarika describes her works thus: “This project interrogates the means by which the people of Delhi create narratives of belonging and identity in the city. It brings together the cultural and creative practices of the city’s inhabitants in a multi-layered video and sound work, including influences from Sufi singers, student activists, street theatre performers, and religious rituals. The working title is taken from After Seeing Kozintsev’s King Lear in Delhi, a poem by Agha Shahid Ali, and references the words of the last emperor of Delhi who was exiled from the city: ‘Unfortunate Zafar/ spent half his life in hope,/ the other half waiting./ He begs for two yards of Delhi for burial./ He was exiled to Burma, buried in Rangoon.’”
Talking about her interests in the subjects she pursued, Hazarika says, “I am attracted to the ways in which both disciplines allow us to analyse social spaces and structures. The practice of fieldwork in anthropology has also been very useful in developing a technique of observation when I am filming or recording sound, and also to analyse the footage during the editing process. Often, having a background in these disciplines helps me to reveal the narratives hidden in our everyday experience.”
The artist makes extensive use of sound in her work. She says, “I work in a way that brings together different types of sound--sound recorded with the video footage and the techniques of electronic music. The result tends to blur the distinctions between these types of sound, and drives the visual narrative in a very different way to traditional cinematic scores.” 
L to R — Kumarresan Selvaraj, Biplab Sarkar, Priyanka Das, Deepak Agasthya, Utsa Hazarika & Suryakanta Swain.
Hazarika at times support herself by doing various jobs as she doesn’t make any income directly from her visual practice. 
She is looking forward to work full-time as an artist. “I work part-time or freelance to pay my rent, so I have been supporting my research and practice through various jobs.  I have had the opportunity to do a range of work in and around Delhi. I have worked as a research and production assistant on academic projects and films; freelanced as a photographer; worked as a waitress at a catering company; and done data entry for a website.”

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