June 7, 2005 - Venice Biennale - iCon: India Contemporary
June 7, 2005

iCon: India Contemporary

Nalini Malani, Mother India: Constructions in the Transaction of Pain. Five channel video projection. 2005

iCon: India Contemporary
June 12- July 31, 2005
Cocktail reception: June 9th, 7-9pm. Open to all.

Refectory of the former Convent SS.Cosma & Damiano
Campo San Cosmo
30133 Giudecca, Venezia
Courtesy of Museo della Gondola


Curators: Julie Evans evansju@mindspring.com
Gordon Knox gknox@montalvoarts.org
Peter Nagy naturemorte@hotmail.com

iCon: India Contemporary features the work of five artists and one collective who represent the vital and engaging art practices to be found in India today. Three new installation projects by Ranbir Kaleka, Nalini Malani, and Raqs Media Collective have been commissioned for this presentation in Venice. In addition, three artists, Atul Dodiya, Anita Dube and Nataraj Sharma, working in painting and sculpture are represented with major new works.

As the nation of India continues to become more prominent on the international stage, its culture becomes increasingly relevant to the rest of the world. An amalgam of ethnicities, cultures, languages, religions, political ideologies and economic strata, how the people of India negotiate these complexities to form a unified and democratic nation can become a model for how other nations may resolve the anxieties presented by globalization and post-modernism.

The diversity of imagery, subjects and techniques employed by these artists reflects the concerns of both themselves as individuals and the larger society in which they live and work. Independent curators Peter Nagy, Julie Evans, and Gordon Knox, in association with the Sally and Don Lucas Artists Programs and with support from Nuova Icona, have organized a substantial exhibition focusing on contemporary art from India.
iCon: India Contemporary has been made possible through the generous support of: Rajan and Radhika Anandan, Anilesh and Tania Ahuja, Arani and Shumita Bose, Srini and Smita Conjeevaram, Steven V. Pacia and Julie Walsh

iCon Artists: ATUL DODIYA (b. 1959)
Atul Dodiya, a native of Mumbai, is one of Indias most accomplished, prolific and astute artists. His practice has, over time, become increasingly complex, his references more specific, and the subjects of his address broader. He employs imagery from a wide strata of sources, from the historical Fine Arts of both East and West to the most banal kitsch found in the markets and homes of India. Atul Dodiya posits a socially and politically responsible form of art practice by employing the devices of collage, assemblage, and juxtaposition to speak to the immediate, the personal, and the heart-felt.
ANITA DUBE (b 1958)
Trained as an art historian and critic, New Delhi-based Anita Dubes work is determinedly individualized yet provocatively informed by its cultural context. She has developed an aesthetic language that is partial to sculptural fragment as a cultural bearer of personal and social histories. Usually employing a variety of found objects, Dube explores a divergent range of subjects that address a profound concern for loss and regeneration- both autobiographical and societal. For iCon, the artist will create a site-specific installation using the enameled eyes found on idols in Hindu temples. A signature material in her practice, the eyes enable the artist to elaborate on divisions between the sacred and secular spaces, organic processes inherent in culture, and the attributes of voyeurism and desire.
RANBIR KALEKA (b. 1953) www.ranbirkaleka.com
Born and raised in the city of Patiala in northern India, Ranbir Kaleka studied painting for a number of years in London before returning to live in New Delhi in the late 1990s. Densely figurative and cryptically narrative, Kalekas paintings exploit tropes of Orientalist imagery and clichés of India. Since the mid-1990s he has been experimenting with video art and often combining the projected image with paintings on canvas, inverting the traditional Indian form of the painted photograph. At iCon he presents a large-scale version of this synthesis of video and painting, tapping into memories, staging and juxtaposing metaphorical events. For the production of this piece he collaborated with the actor Jasbir Kaleka and with Madan Gopal Singh, a semiotician and scholar of English literature, screenwriter, Sufi singer and composer.
NALINI MALANI (b. 1946) www.nalinimalani.com
Originally associated with the group of painters that have come to be known as The Baroda School who pioneered a use of historical reference, allegory, figuration, and narrative to address socio-political concerns, Malanis works of the past ten years have focused on large-scale video installations using multiple projections. Her project for iCon utilizes a text by sociologist Veena Das and will entail projecting video imagery onto 600 kilos of salt in reference to Gandhis salt march. Employing compelling imagery from the Gujarat genocide of 2002 along with images relating to the Partition of India in 1947, Malani constructs a theatrical visual narrative with potent political content.
RAQS MEDIA COLLECTIVE www.raqsmediacollective.net
Founded in 1991 by Jeebesh Bagchi (b. 1965), Monica Narula (b. 1969) and Shuddhabrata Sengupta (b. 1968).

A group of three theorist from New Delhi who collaborate on projects which synthesize video, literature, performance, photography, and the graphic arts, Raqs Media Collectives work is an attempt to be present and attentive to the world as they find it and to the histories that preface and prepare their encounters with the world. For iCon they have created A Measure of Anacoustic Reason. This work is conceived as an installation dedicated to the task of being attentive to utterances that are generally just out of earshot or that are difficult to listen to.
Based in the city of Baroda in the western state of Gujarat, artist Nataraj Sharma will present new large-scale paintings and sculpture at iCon. Sharma’s images are incisive commentaries on perception and experience, his employed styles range from photo-realism to computer graphics. Both man and machinery, depicted in still, speculative portraits, are reduced to their vulnerable cores suggesting a caustic critique on progress. Barren, broody, yet visually dramatic, Sharmas landscapes allude to the unpredictable confluence of nature, civilization, and industrialization, a confluence he experiences directly and records with perceptive insight.

A non-profit artists residency facility in Northern California, Lucas Artists Programs at Montalvo Arts Center invites international mid-career artists to residencies where they may access state-of-the-art technical equipment and facilities to produce new works of all kinds, including video and film. In addition, Lucas Artists Programs’ initiatives include the development and production of opportunities for artists to share their ideas in various parts of the world. It is through these external initiatives that Lucas Artists Programs came to spearhead iCon: India Contemporary for presentation at the 51st Venice Biennale. For more information, please visit: www.montalvoarts.org

Press Contact: Kara Wasson, 408.294.2712
Katy Rees, 408.961.5814

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