Curated by Rashmi Varma
This exhibition venerates the handmade as experienced through objects of utility ranging from recent innovations to ubiquitous objects found in public and private spaces throughout India. Matters of Hand: Craft, Design, and Technique includes objects such as kitchen utensils, storage, furniture, or lighting that are imbued with a thought process, an aesthetic integrity that extend from the karigars/craftspeople/designers/artists/artisans themselves. The objects demonstrate that notions of ‘craft’ move along a continuum threaded into a dynamic past and a fast-approaching future. Whether an object has been in existence for millennia or created in our contemporary time, what is included in this exhibition exemplifies a resistance to the ongoing discourse of modern vs. traditional that pervades handmade design.
The hands, the eyes, the feet, or the movements of the human body are the primary tools of thinking and making that ingeniously transform precious raw materials into objects drawn from the vast Indian landscape. The very essence of these natural, indigenous materials is integral to the design, such as the pliability of katlamara bamboo, the translucency of makrana marble, the sonorous rhythm of kansa bell metal, or the regional clays that transition from earth into burnt terracotta or milk white pottery. Environmental concerns and economic resources are further explored through the use of recycled materials, namely plastic and repurposed furniture that mirror the 21st century. Lost-wax casting, weaving, metal beating, marble carving, block printing, lathe-turning, embroidering or inlaying are some of the techniques employed. Geometry, symmetry, colour, and texture reveal the inherent nature of these elegant forms and announce their presence in an increasingly homogenized world.
Some works included here have been realized through formal working relationships within a two-way system of knowledge-transfer between practitioners and other works made independently in urban and rural environments. A profound respect is shared for traditional modes of techniques and cultural expression; however some works are not driven by these methods and thereby push process and find new expression. Others adhere closer to ideas which have persisted throughout time and space demonstrating refinement and artistry, whist some objects are spontaneously designed from a lack of resources.
Design is a cohesive attitude that applies to cultural, social, economic, and environmental systems that create and define “craft” which in turn inform a way of thinking and living.
Artists: AKFD, Claymen, Avani, Chato Kuosto, Heirloom Naga, Ira Studio, Ishan Khosla, Jeenath Beevi, Kamli Devi, Meena Devi, Olivia Dar, Phantom Hands, Pio Coffrant & JIO Foundation, Rajiben Murji Vankar, Ramju Ali, Rooshad Shroff, Sandeep Sangaru, Senthil Kumar & Jaya Kumar, Shed, SEWA Lucknow, Suraj Prakash Maharana, Swapnaa Tamhane, Salemamad D. Khatri & Muskesh P. Prajapati, Tara Books, The Kishkinda Trust, Tiipoi, Venkataka Krishna, Yasanche, Zilu Kumbhar
Exhibition Design: Reha Sodhi
Exhibition Photography: Philippe Calia
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