Ila Dalmia FICA Research Grant 2016 | Vasvi Oza

The Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA) is delighted to announce the Ila Dalmia FICA Research Grant 2016 is being granted to Vasvi Oza.

This year the jury consisted of Belinder Dhanoa, Assistant Professor, School of Culture and Creative Expressions, AUD; Parul Dave Mukherjee, Professor, School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU; Yashodhara Dalmia, art curator and critic; Bhooma Padmanabhan from FICA. 

We received a strong set of applications for the Grant – with enquiries that explored the premise of Dalit Art to those attempting to redefine Indian modernism through the study of art institutions, from mapping performance art in India to tracing the role of the art communities in the contemporary scene, and research which shifts the focus from the national to the regional strands in art history and discourse in India. The jury noted the well-conceptualized proposals and was very appreciative to find that so many researchers, with longstanding and deep areas of enquiries, were turning to the Grant as a means of support from their independent research. For FICA and Yashodara Dalmia, who is supporting the Grant, it was a validation that indeed this platform was playing a role in sustaining independent research in the field of contemporary and modern art in India. 

The recipient of the award -

Vasvi Oza is a researcher and art curator based in Bangalore. She did her BVA (in 2005) and MVA (in 2007) Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Vadodara. She recently submitted her PhD thesis, ‘Imaging Childhood: Locating the Emergence of the Modern Gujarati Child in the Print Culture of Early Twentieth Century Colonial Gujarat’ at the Department of Film Studies and Visual Culture, English and Foreign Language University, Hyderabad. Currently she works at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore as an Assistant Curator.

Through her project titled ‘Print, public and the regional-modern discourse in Gujarat: a critical study of Kumar and Vrishchik as contested archives’ Vasvi has proposed to re-contextualize modern art in India through a regional framework instead of a national framework and through the print medium in art writing rather than the framework of art practice and the artist figure. Focusing specifically on periodicals which had a wide audience, she aims to study the different aspects of print culture especially the relationship shared between the word and the image in ascertaining the fundamental qualities of print production. Looking at Kumar and Vrishchik two important periodicals from Gujarat, she will through her inquiry focus on the categories of artist writings on art; artist writings as such; reproduction of artworks; cover pages, para texts, print aesthetics. She will also look at some other periodicals where Gujarati artists contributed literary and visual content including Vismi Sadi, Navchetan, Samipe, Etad, Saayujya, Kshitij etc. She hopes to conduct her research through interviews with artists, writers, researchers and publishers from Gujarat. 

The jury found her project relevant to contemporary inquiries into the vernacular in art history, entering this field from the angle of art writing and discourse. They also found that the proposal presented alternative possibilities of reading an otherwise singular art historical narrative, and as having the potential to set a precedent to future research into textual resources/archives in the field. They felt that Vasvi's inquiries were fresh and could enliven these historical materials with new questions. 

Image: Cover of the inaugural issue of 'Vrishchik', published on 10th November 1969.