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India's Jerusalem Biennale pavilion an ode to 'experiments with truth'


New Delhi: The Indian art world that is gaining global viewership will feature in yet another avenue in October - the fourth edition of the Jerusalem Biennale which seeks to shift the euro-centric focus of the global contemporary art.

Drawing upon a theme much-explored this year -- the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi -- the country pavilion promises to be an ode to man's "experiments with truth" and striving for God, says pavilion curator Gargi Seth.

The precursor exhibition, that opens to the public on July 12 here, is titled ‘Experiments with Truth' after Gandhi's autobiography "The Story of My Experiments with Truth".

On the world stage, it is an exploration not just of Gandhi but also of his tenet of truth.

"The works are either a direct or indirect statements of spiritual beliefs, or human tribulations and hopes, or depictions of man's reflections on the ultimate truth, imbued with wonder and now with irony.

"Some works will depict the persona of Gandhi. Each work is true to man's experiments with truth; and, in the larger context of the Biennale, his eternal striving for God," Seth, who heads the Indian Art Circle, told IANS in an email interview.

A selection of accomplished Indian artists' works is curated for the Biennale. These artists have "actively explored and expressed their creativity in the field of religion, spirituality and philosophy", the art curator said.

After the Biennale invited proposals from curators, Seth's curation was selected as a "tangential, thought provoking concept".

"This Biennale is a look into a different part of the world and I believe it gives Indian art an audience in a different part of the world. Europe has enjoyed a sort of a longish hegemony and for far too long art from other parts of the world have been considered a poor cousin. Why not think of this as an opportunity to set a new agenda on new stage?"

Participating artists include Satish Gujral, Anjolie Ela Menon, Asit Patnaik, Arpana Caur, Saba Hasan, Biman B Das, Rini Dhumal, Niren Sengupta, Siddharth, Seema Kohli, Ambalika Chitkara, Neeraj Gupta, Kota Neelima, Avijit Roy, Shruti Chandra, Vasundhara Tewari and Shilo Shiv Suleman.

The Jerusalem biennale pavilion, however, is "not so much about seeking to depict Gandhi's ideals, it is rather a take-off point for the artists' creativity here".

Since the theme for the 2019 Jerusalem Biennale is ‘LeShem Shamayim' (For Heaven's Sake), the India pavilion will interweave Gandhi, truth and search for God. "In my opinion, religion is man's most elemental and eternal search for, and relationship with the ultimate truth."

When the country is celebrating Gandhi, Seth also finds it only appropriate that we rediscover his inspirational approach to the pursuit of truth, especially within the context of religion and religiosity.

"Over the leap of generations, Gandhi's ideals withstand the testimony of time, becoming even more relevant for the truth seekers of today, as they seek to reinvent a global society into one that courageously acknowledges our varied pasts."

For India to participate as one of the 30 projects featuring in the Jewish art event, Seth's curatorial approach had been to "create a deliberate diversity of approaches in the selection of artworks".

"India is a land of solicited debate, shastrarth. The experiments are as much on a spiritual-philosophical level as they are with identity, gender conformity, man's interface with other human beings, nature, mythology, and society."

The precursor show is scheduled to be inaugurated by Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel and will run till July 21.


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