Grant Period: Over three years
The Association of Academics, Artists and Citizens for University Autonomy (ACUA), Vadodara, was formed in February 2008 to revitalise and enrich universities as prime centres of higher education, preventing the erosion of university autonomy and the constitutional provisions sustaining it. ACUA has organised workshops, public lectures, seminars and conferences in collaboration with individuals and educational institutions, thus working towards establishing a creative-critical interface between universities and the public. Recognising the dire need for curatorial studies, ACUA organised a travelling workshop series ‘Curating Indian Visual Culture: Theory and Practice’ that sought to engage with new perspectives on curation. The material generated through these workshops will form the basis of a Curatorial Studies Course that will be designed at a colloquium held at the end of the grant period.
One of the crucial reasons for the glaring absence of critical curating in India is the lack of supportive institutional systems that encourage and enable practitioners to conceptualise/materialise their critical quests. Through a series of five workshops across the country and in-house discussions with academics, curators and artists from varying disciplines, the field will be mapped, problems identified, and the potential of curatorial practice in the context of Indian visual culture understood. The project shall conclude with a colloquium to conceptualise an academic curriculum for curatorial studies. Each workshop shall have 15 participants (M.A. students, arts professionals, and eight seats reserved for local participants). To be conducted over six days, there will be four or five resource persons for each workshop,. The research-oriented project will include presentations by the resource people. It shall also include a thorough discussion of the key reading material and curatorial projects conceived by the participants. After the completion of each workshop, its contents will be published on a dedicated website to enable further discussion around the subject.
The workshops will be conducted in Vadodara, Jammu, Kochi, Shillong, Goa, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Their distribution across the country aims at enabling the development of a curriculum that will deal with particular regions and their concerns. Smaller towns and relatively sidelined regions will be focused on because metro-centric approaches to cultural practices will not engage with pertinent questions around regional discourses. To begin addressing these questions of regional modernities, the workshops will initiate a discussion to understand/frame the cultural/political ethos of those regions. The contents of each workshop vary substantially according to the participants’ interests.
This initiative will be a first step towards re-conceptualising curatorial practices, especially in a context in which pedagogical recognition of curatorial theory and practice was absent. The project envisages a curriculum which will address contemporary challenges in a more holistic manner. It is hoped that this unique curriculum-devising process will eventually lead to the implementation of a curatorial studies course within a recognised institution in India, signifying an important discipline in the arts.