Sudarshan Shetty, best known for his enigmatic sculptural installations, has long been recognized as one of his generation’s most innovative artists in India. Shetty attained a BFA in painting from Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai in 1985. Transitioning from painting to installation early in his career, Shetty explores the fundamental ontological challenges presented by our immersion in a world of objects. He has exhibited widely in India and around the world. Shetty was the curator of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016.
Sudarshan Shetty is the curator for Visual Arts at Serendipity Arts Festival, 2019.
The Art Issue: What is the inspiration behind your curation for Visual Arts at Serendipity Arts Festival 2019?
Sudarshan Shetty: It began with my long time interest in indigenous inventions that arise out of 'real' needs and those which address and make difference to the particular communities in a direct way. It is also a way of exploring, in more than one way, the idea of 'making' as a way of production of knowledge and is necessarily not referential to a set of information which is outside of itself, that one often needs to access to be able to unravel the meaning of an art object.
AI: Could you comment on the selection process of the artists that will be exhibited?
SS: We started with looking for inventors who relied on available technologies to make objects that catered to impending needs of various communities essentially from the non urban areas. This further led us to various social innovators who respond with even intangible ideas that address various issues pertaining caste, gender, language race and religion. Their meaning in a way then, exceeds the concept of need, whether real or perceived. By nature, the objects and prototypes shown here go against the grain of commodity, created for mass consumption.
AI: How does your curation fit into SAF’s broader theme of promoting inclusivity in the arts and diluting regional borders?
SS: The curatorial attempt in itself, even inadvertently, is to bring forth various aspirations held by groups that are often invisible to the mass society. Serendipity provides a stage for that to be played out in a manner that is inclusive of diverse approaches to life, as it were, outside of the purview of 'Art'.
AI: How does the title, 'Look Outside this House' relate to the exhibition?
SS: There are whole categories of objects, both material and immaterial, that address social needs and are derived from older artisanal ways of making, which have survived the onrush of commodification. The practices and objects gathered for this exhibition share these qualities in common - of addressing real conditions and social needs by shaping materials at hand to perform at a local scale. 'Look Outside this House' connotes a way of looking at things outside of a space that is dedicated to 'Art'.
AI: Is there anything else our readers should know about the exhibition?
SS: The attempt is to create multiple narratives being played out on a same plane of experience. There are 27 diverse personal or collective responses to the issues faced by various communities and thus, 'Look Outside this House' is a representation of 'human spirit' in the face of adversities.
The exhibition Look Outside this House will be on view at Old GMC, 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