The Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art is delighted to announce that the FICA Public Art Grant 2017 is being awarded to artist Devashish Sharma for his project titled Museum of Culture/ Sanskriti Sangarahalaya, Belanga Para. 

The project has been selected for the said Grant as it offered an exciting proposition of working with a diverse set of communities which includes the local residents as well as the teachers and students of the Imlee Mahua School in the proposed location of Balenga Para village in the Kondagaon District of South Central Chattisgarh.

Sharma is interested in exploring the ideas of the vernacular and the contemporary using the public institution of the museum as a conduit. He wishes to physically institute the same within the premise of the aforementioned school to facilitate for the students direct access to the constitutive archival material. The additional structures of the library and the art room also form part of the proposed remapping of the region, which are hoped to function as a space for discussion and dialogue for them. The project aims at producing a new space within the existing tribal community in the region. It intends to navigate the idea of the ‘public’ against this rural community setting by using the indigenous knowledge systems to produce a historical discourse through direct (and sustained) engagement with the subject culture.

The jury this year comprised Monica Narula, co-founder of the RAQS Media Collective;Rahul Roy, filmmaker; Ravi Agarwal, photographer, environmentalist, and founder of Toxics Link; and Vidya Shivadas, Director, FICA.

The jury felt that the project has great potential in terms of building such a public institution as a museum within a school premise and therefore bringing into dialogue questions of documentation and ownership within the ambit of a rural community setting. The constitutive structures of the library, the archival space and the art-room in the school are hoped to cultivate an interest in local discourses of culture in the young minds.

Devashish Sharma graduated from M.S. University, Baroda with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts (Painting) in 2013 and Master’s Degree from the Shiv Nadar University in Visual Arts in 2016. He has been an artist-in-residence in The Valley School and has attended summer school in Manifesta Summer School, Zurich University of the Arts, Zurich in 2017. He has also curated the exhibition, ‘Object’, constitutive of works by artists Rujuta Rao and Saubiya Chasmawala and worked in the area of research and documentation at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi. The former project engaged in the creation of maps and installations that attempted to blur the lines between the insulated space of the gallery and the public. His primary interest has been the dialogue between the body and the landscape and his individual project, titled ‘Earthworks’ attempts to establish just this through the construction of structures that both conform and subvert.

The FICA Public Art Grant 2017 has received generous support from 'The Makers'.

Image Courtesy: Devashish Sharma, Imlee Mahua School, Balenga Para, Chattisgarh.