Indo-British project probes changing concept of home (With Image)

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 23, 2013 12:30 hrs

New Delhi, Jan 23 (IANS) The idea of home has become fluid in the 21st century influenced by migration, displacement, clashing histories, alienation and cultural transformation - cutting through the heart of global cultural relations.

An exhibition of contemporary art, "Homelands" - a partnership between the British Council and a network of private Indian partners - probing the changing concept of home in the new multi-cultural order opened at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) Tuesday. The travelling showcase featuring works by 28 leading international artists from the permanent collection at the British Museum will touch Kolkata on March

1, Mumbai on April 28 and Bangalore in June end.

The exhibition marks a new chapter in the cultural cooperation between India and Britain with the British Council working with private Indian sponsors like the Jaguar, Outset India, Kotak Mahindra and Christie's (India) and an Indian curator.

A source in the British Council said it was the beginning of an "expansion of the purview of bilateral partnership in arts and culture between India and Britain since an agreement inked in July 2010 pledged to widen cultural exchange between the two countries".

The works on display plays around the idea that it is no longer possible to think of a single homeland. Curator Latika Gupta says "in today's globalised world, it is multiple homelands that individuals and communities trace their allegiance to".

"Globalisation has a dual effect on the notion of homelands. While on the one hand, distance between countries are reduced and cultures come into contact with each other resulting in rich intermingling, it also includes an obliteration of all that is unique in different places and cultures, often sparking insecurity. The exhibition brings together works that address the idea of homeland in different ways," Gupta told


British artist Susan Hiller looks at changing languages in a cross-cultural world with works like "Last Silent Movie" as Zineb Sedira probes the role of languages in the making of identities. Hiller documents sounds in endangered languages like Cajung, Xoleng, Ngansan, Manx, Waima'a, Jerrais, Livonian, Romany and Comanche, among others, to create a linguistic archive of disppearing homelands.

Artist Tim Hetherington captures the Creole architecture in Sierra Leone in a photo-essay to present the complex canvas of the hybrid culture of a community that returned to its homeland from Britain, the US, the Caribbean and the African coasts between the mid-18th century and the 19th century.

Lebanese artist Mona Hatoum in her installation, "Prayer Mat", uses an empty black prayer rug with thousand of upturned pins on a canvas and a golden compass watch to question geographical locations of home and the clash of civilistations. A practitioner of faith could be anywhere in the world - in relation to Mecca - in Asia or in the west but the conflicts will remain unresolved.

Hatoum initially made Prayer Mat as a series of carpets for the Istanbul Biennale in 1995.

Curator Gupta said she had sifted through more than 8,000 art works to curate the "Homeland" collection of 28.

"To me home is a very strange concept. Home was boarding school and my in-laws home where I came to from the boarding school. Many people want to know where I am from to put a geographical address to my home and many try to make a detailed analysis of genepool to locate my home...Home is where you are comfortable," socialite and former model Feroze Gujral, director of the contemporary art fund Outset India that is partnering the British Council, told IANS.

For Christie's it is the first of its kind of collaboration on the theme of "Homelands", relevant to our times, Menaka-Kumari Shah, Christie's India head, said.

Shah said artists like Ayesha Khaled had earlier worked with changing homes with underground maps of New York while diaspora artist Zarina Hashmi looks at topics like identity, cultural reconciliation and gender in her work.

"Homeland" as a muse has occupied contemporary Indian artists in the last decades as well with globalisation of Indian art and the arrival of new media.

More from Sify: