|When Indian art is spoken of, it is usually classical and traditional forms that are referred. This dossier calls attention to the present, offering glimpses of the latest developments in the visual arts, film, and the dance and theater scene on the Indian subcontinent. The authors, curators of the event series "body.city - New Perspectives from India", consciously focus on megalopolises such as Delhi and Mumbai/Bombay, where the intensity of the transformations and the pressure for change can be felt most strongly.
||Geeta Kapur, a prominent art critic from Delhi, examines the way in which political and social conflicts are reflected in the (urban) body and how artists make their bodies into a medium for exploring social conditions.
The art historian Jyotindra Jain discusses the development of a uniquely Indian iconography in the 19th and 20th centuries. He analyzes their influence on the development of a national identity in the second half of the 20th century, a development arising from the political instrumentalization of the divine.
Drawing on the political and physical meanings which are or can be inscribed upon the body in theatrical space, the theatre scholar Anuradha Kapur provides the first sketch of a cultural history of the Indian theatre: from the emphasis on the individual in the Parsi theater of the late 19th century to the realism which focuses on the (socially interpreted) action and the contemporary theater which picks up on classical forms and skillfully translates them into contemporary performance.
The film critic Ravi Vasudevan sees the late seventies as bringing a break with a film language that had hitherto been uniform. New images take the foreground, raising questions about the social value consensus. Vasudevan also centers his attention on the body, in particular the body in complexes of violence, a violence that serves as an indicator of social decay at the same time as it releases new energies.
The four essays are prefaced by the curators' brief statements on their programs at the House of World Cultures. Together with three picture galleries (see link), they form a kaleidoscope of today's India that ranges from pop culture to contemporary art, film and theatre.
The curators essays and statements, rounded out by additional articles that place contemporary art and culture in the context of sociopolitical issues, are included in the publication "body.city - siting contemporary culture in India" which can be purchased at bookstores or at the House of World Cultures.