The recipient of the Ila Dalmia FICA Research Grant 2015 is Ms. Noopur Desai for her project titled “Formulating Dialogical Art: An Archival Project of Public Art Interventions”.

The recipient of the grant was selected by a jury that included Shukla Sawant, Associate Professor, School of Arts and Aesthetic, JNU; Roobina Korade, Director and Chief Curator, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art; Yashodhara Dalmia, art historian and curator; and Vidya Shivadas, Director, FICA.

This year FICA received a strong set of applications for the Grant from researchers working on various topics that ranged from examining issues of interactivity and the public as well as mapping ‘regional’ and craft practices in relation to contemporary art. The jury noted the well-conceptualized proposals and were also appreciative to find that many PhD students were turning to the Grant as a means of support from their independent research. 

Noopur Desai’s research stood out for its clearly structured proposal that seeks to archive public art interventions in major Indian cities. Looking beyond the basic question of interactivity and publics, Desai’s focus on issues of representation, politics of space, nationalism, cultural identities, multiple histories, and urban geographies, presented a substantial case for wanting to engage more deeply with this growing domain within the visual arts. Her emphasis on the political aspect of such public interventions, especially post the 1990s, alongside fundamental aesthetical questions raised by the artists, and significance of studying this period in relationship with contemporary art practices convinced the jury to select Desai’s proposal for the Ila Dalmia FICA Research Grant 2015.

Noopur Desai is currently a PhD scholar at the School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Deonar, Mumbai, and she received the Jamshedji Tata Fellowship from July 2014 – June 2017. She has a background in History (Fergusson College, Pune, 2003) and Art History (M.S.University, Vadodara, 2005). In the past she has worked as a researcher with Jackfruit Research and Design, Bangalore, and Devi Art Foundation, Delhi; and in research and programming at Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, and Mohile Parekh Centre, Mumbai. Desai has recently completed an archival research project with Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong, titled Publication Project that seeks to examine the trajectories of art writing and art criticism in Marathi periodicals. She is also associated with the G5A Foundation for Contemporary Culture, Mumbai and Centre for Arts and Social Practice (CASP), Pune chapter.

* Photo courtesy: Mohile Parekh Center, Mumbai | work by artist Anupam Singh




Research Seminar

As part of the research FICA in collaboration with Noopur Desai conducted a seminar titled Public Art: artists and their practice, n 05 April 2016, Tuesday at Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi. Two panels in the seminar were framed by Noopur Desai out of her research questions and invited established artists to share their seminal works which dealt with questions of public art, artists engagement and questions of their publics.  

Panel 1: Politics of space and the City included Inder Salim, Vivan Sundaram, Tushar Joag, Vasudha Thozhur, and was moderated by Ravi Sundaram. 
The transformations of metropolitan cities in the last two decades in terms of cultural politics, identity politics cultural politics, identity politics, development policies, degeneration of natural resources have lead artists to take a critical stance on their art practices. The question is how do we contextualize these art practices in the urban scenario in the midst of conflicting ideological positions in terms of cultural politics, cultural identities and politics of space. How this politics of space in these cities have shaped their art practice and strategies that are employed to their nuanced processes of art making? In addition, one has to look at fluctuating and dynamic ideas of public sphere and public space in Indian urban context and how do artists negotiate these public spheres and public spaces? The panel 'Politics of Space and the City' will address these questions through artistic engagements of participating artists.

Panel 2: (Un) Framing Public Art included Pooja Sood, Ravi Agarwal, Sharmila Samant, Aastha Chauhan, and was moderated by Noopur Desai. 
This panel will focus on the practice of participation and dialogue and will discuss various methods and approaches that contemporary artists work with in terms of socially-engaged art practice. The deliberations in this panel will aim at critically investigating frameworks which will help us define and conceptualize public art. What is the relationship between artists, curators and audiences in different contexts and, production and structure of their projects? What role do different players perform in public art criticism and evaluation? It would also be interesting to discuss the role of public in shaping the ideas about public art in this session including questions concerning figure or role of the artist or author, aesthetic value of these processes, role of the curator and ethics of participation among others.