Spirit of Delhi

Author(s): City Air NewsNew Delhi, September 15, 2014: The Lalit Kala Akademi is celebrating its 60th anniversary celebrations. The year-long celebration was inaugurated by Minister of Culture Shripad Naik on 5 August 2014. The Lalit Kala...

Spirit of Delhi

New Delhi, September 15, 2014: The Lalit Kala Akademi is celebrating its 60th anniversary celebrations. The year-long celebration was inaugurated by Minister of Culture Shripad Naik on 5 August 2014. The Lalit Kala Akademi, National Academy of Art, New Delhi was set up by the Government of India as an autonomous body on 5 August, 1954. It was established with a strong focus on artistic excellence and to bring the cultural identity of the nation to a luminous focus. It emerged as the principal establishment of culture that focuses on Visual Arts and its many splendoured forms. The ‘Spirit of Delhi’ is an event part of the 60th anniversary celebrations that celebrates the city not only as the political hub but also the cultural capital of the country. The exhibition and calligraphy workshop was inaugurated on 15 September 2014 by Satish C. Mehta, Director General ICCR. The exhibition consists of paintings from the Lalit Kala Akademi's collection, photographs by the renowned photographer Padmashree Raghu Rai, poetry paintings by Abhay K and Tarshito, rare photographs from archives of Ambedkar University, Archaeological Survey of India, Delhi Archives, Delhi Institute of Heritage Research and Management and National Museum. The exhibition will be on view till 27 September 2014. A seven day long calligraphy workshop will explore different scripts like Gurumukhi, Urdu, Devnagri, Persian and will run until 21 September 2014 at the Lalit Kala Akademi, a book counter on Delhi will also be a part of the show.'Delhi is 'Dehali', i.e. 'threshold', 'gateway', glorious etymological truth of thecapital of India, deeply embedded in its samsaric imperial heart and trivial bureaucratic self-images and centrist complacency, likely to be quite drowned in the flood of five-star freebooting now overtaking it. But in its occult and occasional unfallenness, what is Delhi, a threshold, a gateway, to? Let us supplicate its ancient King and Queen, Yudhishtira and Draupadi for an answer. The Delhi (all right, Indraprashtha) that they had fought for and won...was certainly a gateway to samrajya, imperial power. But Delhi...is also a threshold to the Himalaya...the samrajya of eternal wisdom...Dehali ki jai! '- Ramachandra Gandhi .
To the uninitiated, the metropolis of Delhi seems like a patchwork quilt, characterised by heterogeneous fragments of communities, mohallas and nagars. The contemporary city is shaped as much by the unabashed pursuit of power, as it has been paralleled by an explosion in size and scale. Today, though Delhi is a city “on the make”, there remains something more to it that if seen closely, may be connected to a time when Dilli was a city with a different ethos. What therefore makes the Spirit of Delhi remarkable is its ability to learn to endure, and show how amidst its diverse colonies and corners, lives and livelihoods remain the sources of creative energy. The historical photographs and images at this exhibition help us to see how the city of Delhi, marked by multiple life-worlds, has been many things to many people. As such we can see how images are involved in both constructing and representing ‘reality’. The images demonstrate their value in evoking narratives, as historical documents, as well as, for a continuing study of the passage of time. Many of the visual images here function as documents recording and recalling original events, or they may become art objects in their own right. Even then, images of the past tend to make more sense when contextualised by those of the present. The images created from within the city create an imaginative narrative space. A process of temporality ensues, where the past is constantly made present in order to gain access to a deeper sense of events and spaces. The coming together of poem and image, their drawing apart and resumption of mutual approach, the things they invoke together and separately: we savour all these moments of aesthetic experience in a painting in which Abhay K and Tarshito collaborate to evoke the spectral yet palpable histories of Delhi, as well as its vibrant, insistent, kaleidoscopic and paradoxical present. This exhibition draws attention to the multiplicity of everyday life that has always existed in the city – moving as it does from the colonial eye to the ‘commoners’ gaze. Despite the priority of the colonial political class to provide an urban form to their imperial vision, rather than create a city around the historic identity of Delhi, the images in this collection give an indication of the ‘everyday’ city of the times. Community life, and its social, cultural, economic and political extensions, forms the subject of some of these images, and in the process simultaneously represent a singular version of time and space, while challenging that very representation.
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Monday, September 15, 2014