Traveling art show brings vibrancy
  Resource:Chinadaily   2012-07-16 09:21:01  

The square wood house installation work by Sudarshan (left), and Shetty Subodh Gupta's stainless steel installation Take Off Your Shoes and Wash Your Hands highlight the show. Photos Provided to China Daily

It took Sudarshan Shetty 25 hours to get from India to China because there was no direct flight between the two countries. "I could fly around the globe in 25 hours," he says of the journey that should take six hours at most.

The contemporary Indian artist came to Beijing for the opening ceremony of an exhibition, Indian Highway. It features nearly 30 individuals and collectives, spanning a wide range of media - sculpture, video, installation, painting, performance - focused around the situation of modern India.

The title refers to the information superhighway, a development central to India's global rise.

"The lack of communication between China and India is just like the shortage of direct flights. I hope the exhibition could bridge the cultural gap between China and India," he says.

In the middle of the grand hall of Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, stands Shetty's latest installation work, a 3-meter tall square wood house.

Shetty is best known for his enigmatic and moving sculptural installations. His work on display, like his other installations, explores the challenges faced by the social life of India and raises questions about it.

The latest show is a touring exhibition conceived and originally co-curated by Julia Peyton-Jones, the director of London's Serpentine Gallery.

Since the exhibition kicked off in the British capital in 2008, it has traveled to European institutions, including Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo, Norway and MAXXI in Rome.

One of Indian Highway's highlights is Subodh Gupta's Take Off Your Shoes and Wash Your Hands, a 25-meter long stainless steel installation featuring cooking utensils stacked on shelves, which is a reference to the everyday life of India's middle class, a recurring theme in Gupta's works.

"It offers an opportunity to highlight the unique relationship between the neighboring countries within artistic context," says Peyton-Jones.

The co-curator says that when the exhibition tours, different artworks from Indian artists are chosen and arranged with localized design.

For the China stop, they've invited an Indian dancer, who has been living in China for years and is fluent in Chinese, to usher visitors into the exhibition.

"One of the best things about Indian Highway is that artists could participate in the exhibition and display their latest works, rather than repeatedly showing their old works," says Dayanita Singh, a photographer known for portraits and interior views of Indian domestic life, especially urban-middle and upper-class families. She brought her photo series, Continuous Cities 6 - House of Love, to Beijing.

"The creative scene in India is vibrant but it has been slow to be noticed in China and many other places of the world," she says. "For example, people often ask me how a female photographer survives in India. I don't think of myself as a female photographer and I even forget about the nationality."

According to Peyton-Jones, Serpentine Gallery has also invited many contemporary Chinese artists to have a joint exhibition to tour in Europe.

She hopes that artworks from different cultures - like the Indian Highway exhibition - could be enjoyed and shared by people all over.

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