Saturday, May 23, 2009

Forthcoming Project at 1Shanthiroad

1Shanthiroad Studio in collaboration with Think Tibet Organization is working on a project that marks 50years of Tibetans in exile. Project titled "Phayul Meyul - Touch, Hear, Smell, Taste, See Tibet" focuses on the Tibetan settlements in South India.

Brief of the Project:

In 1959, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet escaped the Chinese invasion and sought refuge in India. Thousands of Tibetans followed their leaders into exile, braving the elements and more importantly the threat to their lives if caught by the Red Army. By 1960, there was a sizeable population in India with no home to go to. The then Chief Minister of Karnataka, S.Nijalingappa came forward to offer land for settling the Tibetan refugees and the first Tibetan settlement in exile came up at Bylakuppe near Coorg.

These are four settlements in Karnataka today - Bylakuppe which is the largest Tibetan settlement in exile, Mundgod near Hubli, Kollegal and Hunsur. Bangalore is home to students, youth who work in city, and seasonally sweater sellers.

Many monks and nuns have found the freedom to practice their spiritual calling in the monastries and nunneries here. The three most important monastries in Tibetan Buddhism - Sera, Drepung and Gaden - are located in Karnataka with a strength of over 15,000 monks. The settlements are agriculture - based and the people continue to farm the land that was allotted 50 years ago. Unfortunately, that is not always sufficient to sustain a livelihood and some take up seasonal sweater selling. The Tibetan settlements are a marvelous display of resilience and sheer survival of a culture while remaining on the fringes of another community. Prayer flags line the landscape as surely as they did in the mountains of Tibet and on quiet morning, the collective chanting of the monks can be heard as they once did in Tibet.

In Bangalore,however, Tibetans live in insulated pockets. The sweater sellers, probably the most visible face of the community for the Indians, descend from the settlement in Orissa every winter. They are allotted designated areas in Majestic, National Market and Shivaji Nagar. And unlike others who are able to go 'home' to the settlements for the Tibetan New Year, the sweater sellers spend it in this bustling, cosmopolitan city that rarely stops to ask what the Tibetan is doing here so far from home.

This collaborative project will make visible the community and their struggle. It will be curated as a participatory project. The viewer will experience Tibet through the senses and will be treated to a sensory experience of Tibetan culture. We wish to create a multimedia installation at 1Shanthiroad for the local Tibetan Community and the people of Bangalore.

We also wish to use culture specific material, images, objects, food, smell to assault the senses. This is an attempt to work with Tibetans who we encounter but never had the opportunity to interact and understand. We wish to locate Tibetan Culture in the contemporary.

We also wish to use culture specific material, images, objects, food, smell to assault the senses. This is an attempt to work with Tibetans who we encounter but never had the opportunity to interact and understan. We wish to locate Tibetan culture in the contemporary context of a global struggle for freedom, equality and human rights. The artists will collaborate with the Tibetan community and activists to construct this multi-dimensional site specific event.

This project is supported by ANA - Arts Network Asia.

About Collaborators:

1 Shanthi Road.

VAC administers 1ShanthiRoad Studio/Gallery, an informal alternative space for the visual arts, creative collaborations, and new-media experimentation.This space has the advantage of being specifically designed to accommodate diverse art practices. And has been actively supporting alternative programs and art residencies. It has successfully contributed to make the visual art scene in Bangalore what it is today. But the current crisis is the need to sustain this space, provide basic infrastructure and salaries to working staff. The mission of 1 shanthiroad is to engage people working now into the space, and to develop a programming of shows, performances. curated projects, events, readings, and other gatherings to build momentum as a group of people interacting and collaborating together.

Think Tibet

Think Tibet was set up with two fundamental objectives: to be a resource for young Tibetans in exile to learn about their society and culture in the face of constant change; to create awareness about the Tibetan people in the local community. The avenues to achieve these objectives are largely the arts – through art collaborations, theatrical workshops and productions, books for children and events that encourage dialogue and understanding of a community in exile.

Monday, May 11, 2009



“Among the many relationships that define the human condition, the individual’s connection to the environment is primary. The elemental background against which all our activity is played out, nature is the biggest of the big pictures. We worship and loathe it, sanctify and destroy it. Birth, death and all that is graceful and vicious between, sit comfortably within the natural web. We singular creatures’ also bloom and rot on its vast matrix, but the combination of our ambition and out gift makes us want more than simply to survive. We aspire to leave our mark, inscribing our observations and gestures within the landscape, attempting to translate and transgress the space within which we find ourselves.”

The structure of trees has been the first lessons for evolution of architecture. The pillar and the beam were adapted to be load bearing structures. The artist reconstructs the process of fashioning pillars that support flyovers. And through this process, he reminds us about the depleting trees in the urban landscape.

We explore nature in body and in mind. Humans have a unique ability to share landscape; they are not just a figure in landscape but the catalyst of change.

As Girjesh Kumar Singh exhibits his latest installation T-transformations, the walls of the historic Lalbagh garden have been pulled down to make way for the Metro. The transformation of the urban landscape of Bangalore has inspired the artist to create this body of work. The tree trunk used in this work is from trees that have been felled to accommodate the changing needs of an unplanned city.

This show is part of the residency programme supported by VAC Visual Art Collective to support young artists to work in Bangalore at 1.Shanthiroad studio gallery, Bangalore.

Review of the show:

Art Talk
Marta Jakimowicz

“T-Transformation”, Girijesh Kumar Singh’s show culminating his residency at 1 Shanthi Road Studio/Gallery (May 8 to 11), has works done in a number of media, that together bring out different but complementary aspects of the subject and the young artist’s response.

Sculpted trees

“T-Transformation”, Girijesh Kumar Singh’s show culminating his residency at 1 Shanthi Road Studio/Gallery (May 8 to 11), has works done in a number of media, that together bring out different but complementary aspects of the subject and the young artist’s response.

What one gets on one’s own is the inherent and persistent interdependence between the natural material of wood from trees and the art made of it, while the sculptor admits his memory of, and his respect for the organic source. Between a photographic composition forming a loose grid of branch fragments amid flowers with foliage and a large wall drawing silhouetting an old tree whose twigs gradually filter and thin out, there stands a dense row of taller and shorter pillars - some blackish of their bark and some light-coloured without it - that retain the residual shape of the tree crown branching out.

The video as if documents the process of transposing the natural into the artful to be placed in the gallery.

It should be appreciated that Singh is able to evoke the dynamism of the act and the meaning it imparts on the changed substance and shape, as well as the continuance of the former in the finished work, which he does with a pregnant simplicity and a rawness that suits the wood material.

It is only after knowing that the show was triggered by the sight of Lal Bagh trees being cut down for a metro station, that the spectator comes to associate the truncated bifurcations of the wooden pillars in the gallery, with the structure of immense concrete supports for urban flyovers or railways.

Even though, or perhaps precisely because, such recognition takes time and the artist’s words to happen, it stays with the viewer with its understated seriousness.

It lets one also return to the first impression about the link between the live, organic tree and the artwork as such, reminding us through sensation, rather than intellectual definition, that we always exist somewhere around things primeval or basic and constructed both into art and into civilised technology. If the inevitability of destruction is necessary for art and for development, one can intuit there a kind of rebirth in the latter, although a tone of nostalgia or regret threads through.

published for Deccan Herald dated 11th May, 2009