And I laid traps for the Troubadors who get killed before they reached Bombay
Exhibition at Clark House Initiative, Bombay, India.
With : Francis Alÿs, Liz Ballard, Yael Bartana, Yogesh Barve, Kemi Bassene, Judy Blum, Sachin Bonde, Kennedy Browne, CAMP, Ceal Floyer, Aurélien Froment, Grupo Etcetera, David Horvitz, Poonam Jain, Jamboys, Mangesh Kapse, Ben Kinmont, Lawrence Liang, Simon Liddiment, Aurélien Mole, Scott Myles, Open Circle, Prabhakar Pachpute, Amol Patil, Rupali Patil, Justin Ponmany, Tatiana Pozzo Di Borgo, Prasad Nikumbh, Roman Ondak, Pratchaya Phinthong, Prajakta Potnis, Nikhil Raunak, Société Réaliste, Zied Ben Romdhane, Caecilia Tripp and Nil Yalter, Carey Young.
A collaboration between Kadist Art Foundation & Clark House Initiative, Bombay, India.
The image of Nil Yalter above tells a history, impossible today, travelling from Istanbul to Bombay, by trains and road, crossing several national borders. The exhibition’s title, And I laid traps for troubadours who get killed before they reached Bombay, taken from a song by the Rolling Stones, is Lucifer’s amoral recount of evil in history. Mick Jagger’s ‘Bombay’ ironically conjures all the exoticism of the East for those on the sixties hippie trail.
Recalling alternatives, the economies of the social contract, of gift-exchange, and the commons, in the face of rising exclusive nationalism, And I laid traps for troubadours who get killed before they reached Bombay is an exhibition of cultural transference : how ideas travel through objects and how the meaning of artworks will change and accrue, when brought into the context of Bombay’s political and social realities, and imaginaries. The exhibition uses the Kadist Art Foundation collection as a starting point to open to other collaborations. Works exist in situ : the travel experience, more than importing a pre-existing meaning, gives them the possibility to multiply their possible interpretations in the light of a new context. Clark House, once a shipping office, a political refuge, and an antiques’ storage – a historical place for the circulation of objects and ideas – therefore becomes a site of works in conceptual and aesthetic shift.
International exhibition making is often a logistical feat that lacks the presence of a social contract between artists exhibiting and those they intend to address. To include the social contract within the exhibition, imagines an alternative economy in art as a political act. Yet the economy is a cultural phenomenon, which interacts on a personal level with people. The exhibition in Bombay circumvents the trade routes that art works tread, eliminating the chicanery of customs regulations and taxes, through instruction artworks and performances, digital files, and artists travelling to produce work while sharing techniques, conceptual inquiry and experience with younger artists.
This exhibition is the second part of a project started in Paris in 2013 with the exhibition L’exigence de la saudade, curated by Zasha Colah and Sumesh Sharma then in residency at Kadist. The first part of this collaboration had achieved in presenting the work of Indian artists, not visible enough in Europe, while asking how a work of culture may retain its radicality as it is transferred, propelled or translated into the context of Paris – to imagine what ‘cultural equality’ may mean.
image : Nil Yalter & Theo Lesoualch, Mime Programme from Paris to Istanbul, to Tehran to Bombay, 1956–1959. The image on the right is taken outside the former opera hall near Clark House, which will become the National Gallery of Modern Art. Image courtesy Nil Yalter.