Jitish Kallat: Covering Letter / Tangled Hierarchy 2

Jitish Kallat: Covering Letter / Tangled Hierarchy 2

Kiran Nadar Museum of Art

Courtesy of Kiran Nadar Museum of Art.

December 14, 2022
Jitish Kallat: Covering Letter
Tangled Hierarchy 2
Projects alongside Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2022
December 14, 2022–April 10, 2023
TKM Warehouse
W7X6+88Q, Panayappilly, Chullickal
Kochi 682002

Kiran Nadar Museum of Art presents projects by Jitish Kallat alongside Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2022.

Kiran Nadar Museum of Art is delighted to present two parallel exhibitions Tangled Hierarchy 2, curated by Jitish Kallat, alongside his seminal installation Covering Letter at TKM Warehouse, Fort Kochi as invited parallel exhibitions at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2022. The twinned presentations of Covering Letter and Tangled Hierarchy took place at the John Hansard Gallery in Southampton, UK (June 2 – September 10, 2022) and are now presented together in close conjunction for the first time in India.

“We are delighted to present two projects by Jitish Kallat at the upcoming edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale to coincide the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence. Positioned around two key historical moments, we hope the exhibitions will take the discourse beyond Gandhi and Partition and allow visitors to reflect upon how acts of division and destruction continue to this day.” —Kiran Nadar, Chairperson, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art

Tangled Hierarchy 2, curated by Jitish Kallat
Tangled Hierarchy 2 is an exhibition that centres on a collection of five humble yet remarkable used envelopes. Each envelope is addressed to Mahatma Gandhi and is now conserved within the Mountbatten Archive at the University of Southampton. The first iteration of Tangled Hierarchy opened at John Hansard Gallery Southampton, UK on June 2, 2022, marking 75 years to the day since the momentous meeting between Lord Louis Mountbatten (the newly appointed Viceroy of India) and Mahatma Gandhi.

On Monday, June 2, 1947, Mountbatten met with Mahatma Gandhi to discuss the imminent partition of the Indian subcontinent, a proposition strongly opposed by Gandhi. As a consequence of Gandhi undertaking a vow of silence on Mondays, the meeting took an unusual turn. Instead of conversing, he communicated with Mountbatten by writing notes on the backs of used envelopes, which are now the only surviving record of their exchange. Kallat takes the “Gandhi envelopes” as a reference point for a series of artistic conversations and correspondences. Combining archival and scientific artefacts, alongside works by contemporary artists, Tangled Hierarchy explores the various relationships between silence and speech, visibility and invisibility, partitioned land, bodies, and pain. Themes of maps, borders, recurring cycles and unsettling displacement are woven throughout the exhibition. 

Tangled Hierarchy 2 includes contributions by: Kader Attia, Kim Beom, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mahatma Gandhi, Mona Hatoum, Somnath Hore, Partition Museum, S.L. Parasher, Sir Roger Penrose, Paul Pfeiffer, Dr Vilayanur S Ramachandran, Mykola Ridnyi, Prof Roger Shepard, Homai Vyarawalla, Alexa Wright and Zarina.

Jitish Kallat: Covering Letter
Covering Letter
takes the form of words projected onto a curtain of cascading mist fog. The words are from a historical letter written by Mahatma Gandhi to Adolf Hitler just weeks before the start of World War II. In the spirit of his doctrine of universal friendship, Gandhi begins the letter with the greeting “Dear friend.” Kallat has described the correspondence within the Covering Letter as a plea from a great advocate of peace to one of the most violent individuals who ever lived. Visitors can literally receive or pass through Gandhi’s words as they scroll and are diffused by the descending fog. Their ever-dissolving and ephemeral nature echoes the fate of his message, which went unheeded. While Covering Letter (2012) has been widely exhibited at museums and biennales around the world, this is the first time that it is exhibited in Southern India. 

Jitish Kallat was born in 1974 in Mumbai, India where he continues to live and work. His solo exhibitions at museums include institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago), Dr.Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum (Mumbai), Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), Frist Art Museum (Nashville), the Ian Potter Museum of Art (Melbourne), and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia). Kallat’s work has been part of the Venice Biennale, Gwangju Biennale, Havana Biennale, Asia Pacific Triennale, Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale and the biennales of Curitiba, Guangzhou, Kiev and Bangkok amongst others. In 2017, the National Gallery of Modern Art (New Delhi) presented a mid-career survey of his work titled Here After Here 1992-2017, curated by Catherine David. Kallat was the curator and artistic director of Whorled Explorations, Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, and he curated I draw, therefore I think for the SOUTH SOUTH Platform in 2021.

Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) opened its doors to the public in January 2010. It is a pioneering private museum of Modern and Contemporary art in South Asia, with two spaces located in New Delhi and Noida. It is a not-for-profit institution with an extensive and creative engagement with exhibition-making, educational and public-focused programs, and publications. Through its rigorous and multiple programs, KNMA emphasises its commitment to institutional collaborations and support-networks for artists and creative communities, while extending its reach to diverse audiences. The Museum houses a growing collection of more than 10,000 artworks from South Asia, with a focus on the historical trajectories of 20th century Indian art, alongside the experimental practices of young contemporaries. KNMA was established through the initiative of art collector and philanthropist Kiran Nadar and is supported by the Shiv Nadar Foundation.

KNMA is geared to open its new standalone museum building designed by Sir David Adjaye in the NCR in 2025.

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December 14, 2022

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