Ravi Agarwal has an inter-disciplinary practice as an artist, photographer, writer and curator. His work explores key contemporary questions around ecology, society, urban space and capital. He works with photographs, video, installations, and public art and has been shown widely in shows, including at the Kochi Biennial (2016), Sharjah Biennial (2013) and Documenta XI (2002).
Ravi Agarwal is the curator for Photography at Serendipity Arts Festival 2019.
The Art Issue: What inspired you to curate 'Imagined Documents'?
Ravi Agarwal: I am interested in looking at outstanding contemporary photography practices from South Asia and the region. I want to showcase not only wonderful work, but also suggest that photography is a serious practice even when we are visually surrounded, and that it requires as much the mind as the eye – both of which are revealing documents of how the world appears today. The artists are chosen all practice making staged/constructed photographs, and they all have roots in the geographical area I am showcasing. This 2019 show is a conceptual extension of the show I curated in 2018 called Intimate Documents.
AI: Which artists can the viewers expect at the exhibition?
RA: The exhibition has an indoor as well as an outdoor component. The Indoor show is called Imagined Documents and shows. They have outstanding long developed practices, which are rooted in the contemporary moment. They all have something to say about the times now.
Dia Bhupal Mehta
The outdoor show is called Urban Reimagined II. It has two commissioned works by Achia Aanzi and Sahil Naik.
AI: How does your curation fit into SAF’s broader theme of promoting inclusivity in the arts and diluting regional borders?
RA: The exhibition will be conceptually accessible to everyone I hope. That is one of the strengths of the photograph. It has artists from India, Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh speaking of a universal language of art. 5 of the 8 artists are women. They are in the end, all dedicated artists, located in their spaces, but their work speaks to everyone.
AI: What is the significance of the title, 'Imagined Documents'?
RA: I am interested in the photographs as a ‘document.’ Hence this word is part of the titles in 2018 and 2019. I believe the photograph has strong resonances to ‘reality’ even if it an imagined space. It is part of how we see the photograph. It is a specific kind of information.
AI: Is there anything else our readers should know about constructed or staged photography?
RA: The idea of constructed or staged photographs, though recognized as a conscious postmodern genre in photography, at least since the early seventies elsewhere, it still needs to be earmarked here as one, and reflects the universality of the moment we find ourselves in today.
The exhibition Imagined Documents will be on view at The Adil Shah Palace, Panjim from 15th-22nd December, 2019
This interview was conducted as a part of The Art Issue's media collaboration with the Serendipity Arts Festival, 2019