Image: Invite Poster for the Talk

Image: Invite Poster for the Talk

Polish India Shop: by Janek Simon and Max Cegielski

The speakers shared the work they have done building an archive of visual culture based on research conducted with artist Samit Das as a respondent.

May 2, Tuesday | 5:30 pm
Vadehra Art Gallery, D53 Defence Colony, New Delhi - 110024

For over a year, a conceptual artist (Simon) and a journalist and writer (Cegielski) have worked together curating the exhibition of the working title: Polish India Shop. It will be held in June 2017 in the Museum of Modern Art (Warsaw) and in November 2017 in Clark House (Mumbai). During the lecture, the curators discussed problems and challenges that can be encountered when exhibitions are built not so much on objects of art but with the help of visual culture archives. The project Polish India Shop presents the history of Polish-Indian relations from the 1950s to the 1989 transformation. The exhibition doesn’t show many artworks of the period, and if it does, they are works by unprofessional artists such as a Silesian painter Erwin Sówka. The majority of the presented materials are archives: photographs, ads, maps, architectural plans and mock-ups, films and complementary texts (statistics, fragments of economic analyses, reportages, books and interviews, and other original texts). With these tools, the curators – subjectively but chronologically – tell a story of numerous links between the Polish People’s Republic and the East which have fallen into oblivion after Polish capitalism became stabilised in 1993. During the lecture, they spoke about the problems they encountered trying to display historical objects of everyday use, present magazines of the time, old albums with photographs or antiquated books. They shared their experience of working with Polish and Indian archives of different kinds and the way they are presented in the context of modern art.

About the Speakers: 

Janek Simon
(born 1977) is a conceptual artist, curator and a wannabe documentary filmmaker. His main source of inspiration is curiosity. On a more concrete level he is inspired by travel, history of science and political ideas, and the practice and ethics of the DIY culture, always filtering the theories through his personal experience though. In recent years he developed a body of work investigating notions of distance and difference between places, working on projects that try to remap semi-peripheral position of Eastern Europe through geographical experiments. He had been running an ephemeral project space called Goldex Poldex in Krakow between 2008 and 2012. The space's program dealt with issues of autonomy and it's contemporary meaning, the influence of funding bodies on artistic production and politics of presentation of marginalized positions in the art system. He started developing large-scale conceptual projects that are made public through documentary films in recent years. The first one “Mission Auropol” which tells the story of a group of polish artist working on an exhibition in an utopian community in India is in last stages of postproduction. His works was shown, among others, at Manifesta 7, Liverpool Biennale, Prague Biennale, and numerous solo shows in major public art institutions in Poland and elsewhere (Arnolfini Bristol, Casino Luxembourg, Zacheta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw and others).

Max Cegielski
(born 1977) is a journalist, writer, curator. Author of several books: “Masala” about travelling around India, as well as short novels “Apocalipso” and “Drunk on God” – non fiction on Sufism in Pakistan. At the beginning of 2009 his book “The eye of the world. From Constantinople to Istanbul”, for which he received the Beata Pawlak Award, was published, followed in 2011 by “Mosaic, Following the Rechowiczes”. His last book is The Great Player. From Samogitia to the Roof of the World (2015). He co-founded the collective Masala Sound System. Laureate (together with Masala) of the award “Antifascist of the year 2004”.Author and co-curator of the project Global Prosperity at Instytut Sztuki Wyspa in Gdańsk (2010) and curator of Migrating University of Mickiewicz in Istanbul (2014). Until 2016 presenter of TVP Kultura, co-host of the show Hala Odlotów for which he won Grand Press award in 2015.

Samit Das
Born in 1970 in Jamshedpur, Samit Das began his formal artistic training at Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan in 1994, where he continued on to do his Masters degree two years later. In 2000, he participated in the Associate Student Post Graduate Program at the Camberwell College of Art, London. Das was the recipient of the BRIC scholarship which led to him spending time in Italy in 2011. He was also awarded the ProHelvetia Research fellowship in 2016 and has been recently chosen as a Pernod Ricard Fellow. Samit Das' practice is influenced by his fascination with documentation and the archive. Das' love for the archive and his Santiniketan roots culminated in a documentation project at the Tagore Museum in Kolkata between 1999 and 2001. He went on to work on another project - an exhibition titled The Idea of Space and Rabindranath Tagore that was exhibited in numerous venues including Lalit Kala Academy (New Delhi), India International Centre (New Delhi) , Victoria Memorial Hall (Kolkata) and Freies Museum (Berlin). He has also authored two books - Architecture of Santiniketan: Tagore's Concept of Space, published by Niyogi Books, New Delhi and Hotel New Bengal - a limited edition book published by Onestar Press, Paris. Samit Das lives and works in New Delhi.

About C 13

The event was a part of the programming of C 13, an exhibition which is a collaboration between FICA and artist Priyanka Choudhary. Between 2010-17, Priyanka used C 13 as a studio space and has now extended an invitation to other practitioners to rethink the possibilities of a studio space. The FICA Reading Room was also housed in the building for the period of three weeks. We invited Susanta Mandal to respond to this project of inhabiting C 13 - a home, a studio, an abandoned site that is being interpreted and experienced differently by each of the exhibiting artists and to come up with a structure for the Reading Room. He designed a self-contained unit, a mobile structure with all the architectural elements of a building. FICA Reading Room is a space for discussions and over the next three weeks we will hold many informal conversations in this room.