As You Can See, Exhibit320, New Delhi

Four-person show with a comprehensive body of work by Amba Sayal-Bennett, Ayesha Singh, Kumaresan Selvaraj and UBIK

Curated by Meenakshi Thirukode

26 July - 26 August 2016

‘As You Can See’ brings together four conceptual practices that are situated within what curator Paul Wollen classifies as ‘Conceptual Art History’ - the dominant stylistic period in the US and in Europe between 1965 and 1975 as well as ‘Conceptualism’ as a set of strategies that were not dependent on the traditional time period of an art history. Through the practices of Amba Sayal-Bennett, Ayesha Singh, Kumaresan Selvaraj and UBIK, the show acknowledges the ambiguities of locating what the ‘Conceptual’ entails within South Asia, particularly in the current moment. The show attempts to look at these practices through the lens of different art histories, geographies, globals and locals through a curatorial approach that is less authoritative and more a set of questions.

The show stems from conversations around SA/SEA conceptual art as located within the 1999 show ‘Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin 1950s-1980’s’ at The Queens Museum in NYC. The curators acknowledged in the catalogue that they were not able to provide a definitive account of the global phenomenon of conceptualism in South Asia/South East Asia, and commissioned Apinan Poshyananda to pen an essay on the region. Poshyananda contends that conceptual art was a category born post the 80’s out of two contexts. One where multiculturalism as a global phenomenon of the 90’s led to the contextualizing of ‘non-western’ artists like Anish Kapoor as conceptual, largely driven by the push and pull of the market, and two, with reference to India, “conceptual art was seen as vehicles for critique and reflections on rapidly changing societies based on local idioms”. Often times the privileging of one art history, the lack of communication, a means of archiving or access to the same across boundaries and geographies beyond Euro-America, the non-acceptance of a ‘conceptual practice’ because artists in South Asia may not have wanted to and did not recognize their works as having the same objectives as artists in the West given that they arrived at the work not through ideology, but by sheer desire to forward their practice where it needed to go, lends to these multiple layers of ambiguity.