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Curator Anushka Rajendran On Contemporary Art Space In India

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Noor Anand Chawla

“These days, artistic research is extremely vital and relevant. So it’s refreshing to see so many artists and curators intellectually engaged with art,” says Anushka Rajendran at the HELLO! India Art Awards.

For one so young, Rajendran has carved out a firm place for herself in India’s artscape through her multifaceted curatorial practice. Her research often dwells on the significance of the public on contemporary art practices, in addition to focussing on the aesthetics of public engagement with exhibitions.

She’s the curator of Prameya Art Foundation, Delhi, and was on the team that put together the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2018. Besides New Delhi, she had exhibitions recently in Taiwan, Japan, Sri Lanka, Spain and Dhaka, and it’s her dedication and sharp insight into esoteric concepts that make her the rightful recipient of the award for ‘Curator of the Year’.

The talented curator speaks to us on the occasion of her win.

HELLO!: Congratulations on winning the award for ‘Curator of the Year’! How do you feel about it?

Anushka Rajendran: “I have always believed in a quiet and sustained practice that responds to the urgencies of the context. So I’m grateful for this recognition.”

H!: Your practice focuses on contemporary art presented in a public context. Why do you feel it’s important to highlight this aspect?

AR: “The public is diverse and varied within our social fabric. Hence, contemporary art, in traditional spaces of display, can often feel alienated from the context that informs the work and the subject it engages with. My research explores various approaches that artists have maintained within their practice to address these issues. At the same time, with rising instances of censorship and vigilante justice in our public spaces, galleries and museums have become valued agents for certain kinds of conversations. I hope to perpetuate this through my practice.”

H!: As an independent curator, you juggle numerous projects simultaneously. What are you working on currently?

AR: “At Prameya Art Foundation, besides our recurring programmes, we have some exciting new initiatives planned, including the solo exhibition and newly commissioned work of Yoshinori Niwa, a Japanese artist based in Austria. We also have an upcoming solo exhibition of eminent artist and psychoanalyst Bracha L Ettinger’s drawings and notebooks, as a follow up to a workshop she led for young artists, curators, historians and psychoanalysts living in Delhi. The workshop resulted in a collaborative publication that acknowledges her path-breaking work in the fields of feminism, trauma theory and psychoanalysis.”

H!: What would you say is your long-term curatorial vision?

AR: “My long-term curatorial vision includes working towards a diverse and discursive arts context that sustains cross-cultural exchanges, experimental practices and institutional exhibitions in ways that respect artistic integrity, ethics and labour.”

H!: Your thoughts on the HELLO! India Art Awards as a platform for the promotion of the arts:

AR: “In just two editions, the HELLO! India Art Awards has managed to acknowledge criticality and research-based practices. I hope this remains the case in the coming years, too.”

This has been adapted for the web from a story originally published in the March 2023 issue of HELLO! India. Get our copy of the latest issue right here!