Curatorial text

Taking reference from two Latin texts from the fifteenth century CE, this online exhibition looks into the phenomena of degeneration, death and decay, with a subversive, profane, and critical edge.  The artists in this show, have their individual ways of interrogating the idea of death, their distinct oeuvres exploring the possibilities of grotesque morbidity, as well as eerie silence. At the same time, their works for this show, collectively address the deep global crisis of our contemporary present—where unfortunately death and demise have become commonplace.

However organic and natural death may seem to be, it is but a socio-political construct. The perception of death and mechanisms of coping with it, are rooted for some in religious faith, while for the others in the importance of the self and social interactions. What makes death further intriguing, is its inevitability, omnipresence and omnipotence.

Ars Moriendi, the religious text on Christian ‘Art of Dying’, was written in the aftermath of the recurrent bubonic plagues, as means of consolation. The manuscripts were illustrated with engravings, focusing on the death-bed. In the contemporary context, the sheer medieval faith is replaced with scientific temper and post-modern modes of intellectual enquiry.  Profanation or desecration of the phenomena of death, surface as the strong undercurrent in this curated show, as artists probe the notion of death from various vantage points: personal, fictional, social, political, biological and even metaphysical.

The manuscripts of Ars Moriendi, being the first ones to be printed with the movable-type, were profusely circulated in the medieval world, triggering an artistic discourse on death.  In today’s time, the digital format of online exhibition, likewise becomes a seminal electronic tool of dissemination of the pertinent macabre notions, which continue to plague us physically and psychologically.

The Artists


ADITYA PUTHUR

 


Jahangir Y. Patel

 


Shreya Shukla

 


Ajith Nedumangad

 


Anupam Roy

 


T. Venkanna

 


Ankit Ravani

 


Ushnish Mukhopadhyay

 


Veda Thozhur Kolleri

 

Curator

Pronoy Chakraborty

Hailing from Kolkata, Pronoy Chakraborty is a post-graduate from the Department of Art History and Aesthetics at the Maharaja Sayaji Rao University of Baroda. Pronoy’s academic concern covers the wide spectrum of ancient and medieval art and aesthetics of the Indian subcontinent, with an inclination to philosophical discourses and ritualistic practices. He is particularly interested in interrogating the esoteric lineages of Tantric Buddhism, and their association with the cultic traditions of the Sahajiyā Bāuls and Fakirs in Bengal.

Through the critical lens of gender, migration and translation, his anthropological research of Ladakh and rural Bengal tries to archive the living, performative oral traditions of the religious cults. As a practicing artist, his painterly works are largely informed by these art-historical investigations which in turn, stems from a personal calling towards the occult.

Pronoy was a Dara Shikhoh Fellow of 2018 and a session-leader in the 4 th Middle Bangla Retreat in Morocco 2019, organized by the Department of South Asian Languages, University of Chicago. He has curated the exhibition Archival Dialogues and has presented at various national seminars on art-history and translation studies.