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When Was Modernism

Essays on Contemporary Cultural Practice in India

Geeta Kapur

October 2020

7.25 x 9.5 inches

(xvi+440) 456 pages

ISBN : 978-81-89487-24-9

INR 1,200
INR 1,200.00
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978-81-89487-24-9

A commitment to modernity is the underlying theme of this volume. Through essays that range from interpretive and theoretical expositions, the author seeks to situate the modern in contemporary cultural practice. She sets up an ideological vantage point to view modernism along its multiple tracks in India and the third world.

The essays divide into three sections. The first two sections, Artists and ArtWork and Film/Narratives, analyse the works of a selection of artists and filmmakers, raising questions of auteur, genre and features of national, as these materialize into an aesthetic within the Indian modern.

The last section, Frames of Reference, deals with broader cultural issues. The essays here formalizes polemical options that emerge from concerns developed across the book. They propose resistance to the depoliticization of the narratives, and affirm an open-ended engagement with the avantgarde. They explore the possibility of cultural practice finding its own signifying space that is still a space for radical transformation.

Geeta Kapur

Geeta Kapur is a Delhi-based critic and curator. Her essays are extensively anthologized; her books include Contemporary Indian Artists (1978), When Was Modernism: essays on contemporary cultural practice in India (2000), Critic’s Compass: Navigating Practice (forthcoming). She was a founder-editor of Journal of Arts & Ideas and a member of the advisory council of Third Text. She is on the advisory board of ArtMargins, and an editorial advisor and trustee of Marg. She has curated survey exhibitions at Lalit Kala Akademi (Delhi), National Gallery of Modern Art (Delhi and Mumbai), Royal Academy of Arts (London). Her curatorial projects include: ‘Dispossession’, Johannesburg Biennale (1995); ‘“Bombay/Mumbai”, Century City’, Tate Modern, London (co-curator, 2001); ‘subTerrain’, House of World Cultures, Berlin (2003); ‘Aesthetic Bind’, Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai (2013–14). She was jury member for the Biennales of Venice (2005), Dakar (2006) and Sharjah (2007); and member, advisory board of Asian Art Council and Guggenheim Museum, New York, Asian Art Archive, Hong Kong, Tate Research Centre: Asia, London. She has held visiting fellowships at the Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla; Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi; Clare Hall, University of Cambridge; Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. She was awarded the Padmashri by the Government of India in 2009.