Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art presents 'Untold histories: India at the Venice Biennale since 1954,' a talk by Manuela Ciotti.

The Indian pavilion at the Venice Biennale was inaugurated by Sir Ronald Adam in the presence of Luther Evans, then Director-General of UNESCO. As many as forty Indian paintings were sold at this very competitive international art forum.'

(Image and text from 'The Sasia Story' Madanjeet Singh, UNESCO Publications, 2005)

Date:  Thursday, 8 August 2013
Time: 6:00 pm
Venue: FICA Reading Room, D-42 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110024

 Manuela Ciotti's talk is part of a larger project on global presences of contemporary art from India, and analyzes the insights emerging from research on India's participation at the Venice Biennale since 1954.

In the photograph we have Madanjeet Singh, the cultural attaché at the Indian Embassy in Rome and the Commissioner of the Indian pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1954. On this iconic year for art in India, a retrospective of 59 paintings by 32 artists (including M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza, Jamini Roy, Amrita Sher-Gil and Francis Newton Souza) was exhibited at the Biennale - making it India’s largest presence in Venice to date.
Ciotti's paper offers a corrective to prevailing accounts of the 2011 Indian pavilion which, among other things, was portrayed as the country’s first ever presence in Venice. If these accounts can be read as a sign of the ‘hegemony of the present’, not only does this paper show that the need of historicizing art world events is stronger than ever but also that emerging histories can help to recast some of the questions which are being asked of the present itself.
Manuela Ciotti is Assistant Professor in Global Studies at Aarhus University and ‘Framing the Global’ Fellow (2011–14) at Indiana University Bloomington. She has published several essays in leading journals and is the author of Retro-Modern India. Forging the Low-caste Self (2010) and Political Agency and Gender in India (forthcoming).