Book Club: Ways of Seeing by John Berger


Book Club: Ways of Seeing by John Berger
Facilitator: Tushar Joag
August 5th, Tuesday
Modern School, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi

Lec Dem at Sanskriti School, July 19th Saturday: Gigi Scaria, “Urbanesque and the City”

Our first Art1mpressions Series Lec Dem unfurled on July 19 at Sanskriti School with artist Gigi Scaria speaking on “Urbanesque and the City”.

The talk commenced with Gigi pondering over his move from Kerala to
Delhi and how this resulted in a paradigm shift in his artistic IMG_1346oeuvre. His peripatetic engagements with the city in terms of him exploring the spaces both the private and public while being on the move, helped him see the city of Delhi in a new lens altogether. His quest to re-look at the layered city by addressing questions of space, urbanism, architectural premises and issues of human displacement gave him an added impetus. He addressed the aspirational changes that Delhi as a city underwent as a consequence of ‘global transactions’.

Scaria spoke about the initial subject of his work in Absence of an Architect (2007) which looked at the existential crisis of humans in the so-called world. He looked at the changing city-space with the rise of malls and concrete high-rise structures in and around the city. He also brought to light about seeing the city in new perspectives from the overground metro lines. He also highlighted how most Indian cities are organically-formed, it was only Lutyen’s Delhi that had a master-plan in terms of its layout.

Among the many works that he spoke about was one of a photograph taken at a metro construction site in Rohini West. Gigi talked about how his artistic exploration was premisedIMG_1355 around the issue of labour and the migrant floating population in the urban rural dichotomy. This particular work was to in a way document the way workers lived around and were much a part of the construction site. This piece of of his work addressed issues of labour demand, shifts in labour movement and displaced populations which form a significant part of the urbane cityscape.

Scaria having been a part of very many artist residency projects, spoke about a particular one such six-month residency in Korea in 2008. He used the recurring motif of cellphones, as an object of globalizIMG_1351ed modernity in creating a series of photographs called Triviality of Everyday Existence in the space of the metro station. The message he wanted to relay is the sense of inter-connectedness that a mobile phone offers in today’s times. A person sitting next to someone could draw him/her into his world and private space. The manner in which we can shift our predisposed location by way of looking into another person’s cellphone is remarkable.

  Gigi also showed some of his popular video-works such as Panic City, Prisms of Perception and the like. The talk ended with a round of discussion with art teachers around Gigi’s body of work and thematics related to his art and practice.

Art The Basis of Education by Devi Prasad: Book Club Session at Modern School, Barakhamba on July 7, 2014

Our maiden Book Club session rolled out on 7th July at Modern School, Barakhamba where participants from Delhi’s leading schools ruminated upon and exchanged thoughts about Devi Prasad’s Art The Basis of Education. The basic premise on which Devi Prasad’s book is hinged is to break the fetters of the colonial system of education so as to empower the minds of our children. This liberating force according to him comes through the language of art. Art creates the enabling enviroment for the child to express the unsaid, the repressed, the uncharted. Participants discussed various aspects of the book which was facilitated by artist and educator Nidhi Khurana.

The book provides an opening to the spirit of true teaching. While underscoring the fact that there is not a pronounced methodology for child art in India, Devi Prasad provides an interesting entry point into the the realm of art education through his ‘experimental’ stance. The participants engaged in a lively discussion around the ideas and thoughts propagated by the author. It was unanimously agreed as per the book that teachers blurring the ‘mistakes’ in a work of art made by a child, was equivalent to cringing the life of the work.

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The participants exchanged views and perspectives shared in the book. An idea that struck out strongly to most of them was Devi Prasad’s belief, inspired from Tagore. In the practice of art, the element of poverty was essential in thrusting the ‘personal experience of the world’ onto the creative /imaginative mind of the child as opposed to expensive habits. It is very rightly stated by Devi Prasad that affluence draws the child away from nature, which most teachers endorsed in the discussion.