Students' Biennale 2016
Later the Atelier Ate Her*
Exhibition dates: 13 December, 2016 – 29 March, 2017
Venue: Various places across Fort Kochi, Kerala
Post Entropy: Field Notes, an installation by the students from College of Art, Delhi for the ' Students' Biennale 2016.
Post Entropy: Field Notes
Every genuinely modern/contemporary artwork stages the processes of entropy within itself. Every such artwork operates by deforming and dissolving traditional artistic forms. It is in this way that an artwork gives to its spectator a promise that the system controlling this spectator’s individual fate will also be undermined by entropic forces and will eventually dissolve. — Boris Groys, "Poetics of Entropy"
'The Falling Leaf' – an event that opened at Gallery Latitude28, New Delhi earlier in July with the repurposed preamble of ‘Ceci n’est pas une exposition,’ was a culmination of sessions/workshops at FICA as well as visits to the colleges that were assigned to me and the experience of interacting with the students and staff there. A lot of our initial discussions revolved around the issue of 'selection'. The term generated some anxiety and there was an obvious aversion to it and a desire to bypass it, Rancière's 'ignorant school master' serving as our model and guide. 'Collaboration' as a curatorial model was discovered at the intersection of an assimilative desire to transfer/ temporarily displace my curatorial agency to the artists to imbibe some of their specialised knowledge in a 'becoming-together' with them and my desire to expand the scope of participation in the Students' Biennale as well as stretching the spatio-temporal duration of the exhibition (SB<>Forum) itself. By shifting/displacing the curatorial agency to the students I was hoping to transfer the responsibility for participation to them in a bid to do away with the terminology of selection and replacing it with 'participation-collaboration'. Each student was responsible for her own participation and my role was largely that of a facilitator (interestingly that's among the first definitions of the term 'curator') of the collaboration. This is not to say that I was doing away with the curatorial responsibility but by isolating the event from its later (re)presentation I was aiming for a model that was more open and holistic.
The event that was consequently conceptualized was ‘The Falling Leaf: On Entropic Currents’ – a collaborative proposition by the students from the College of Art, Delhi. The ‘exhibition’ as an art-project also served variably as a ‘model’ for ‘life-drawing’ and a ‘residency’ for the participating students who digested the experience of this collectively curated event through the course of the ‘exhibition’ to excrete/re-compose it into an art form that was then to be presented at the Students’ Biennale in Kochi. Throughout the course of the exhibition the artists were active in space, feeling out and absorbing. The project, in the semblance of an exhibition proposed, ‘eating’ as an intimate mode of understanding — I cannot ‘know’ you so I will start by eating (of) you. The gallery played the generous host for the duration of 10 days to these teeming ecologies of arteaters and thus served as a vitalistic Petri dish for these artistic and curatorial cultures.
Set to the theme of ‘entropy’ in both its connotations of chaos/ denaturation of a stable system as well as decay, the ‘exhibition’ followed the entropic trail to various disciplines and thematic domains, the prominent among them being ‘urbanity’ and ‘nature’. Limited not just to the subjects depicted, entropy seeded the very structure of the event where the definition of ‘exhibition’, ‘curator’ and ‘artwork’ were displaced and diffracted to be replaced by a phenomenological mode of cognisance grounded in a ‘being together in space’ and ‘becoming’. As such the project could be considered a Deleuzian exercise in deterritorialising oneself following ‘distinct but entangled lines’, one that sought to study different ways of collaboration, of ‘coming together in space’ and different sets of ‘multiplicities’.
During the artwork-exhibition-residency the students were tasked with working out the details of an adequate representation for their experience of making ‘The Falling Leaf’ i.e., with archiving an event/performance past, yet, one that lived on in imagination. Thus, our subsequent engagement was to divine an artwork that could speak to this past event whilst being an independent artwork in its own right. The form of a ‘library of entropy’ was conceived based on the eponymous short story by the celebrated Argentinian writer Jorge Louise Borges. The library offered a solution to the problem of archiving and cataloguing the sketchbooks that were made during ‘The Falling Leaf’ while at the same time being a form fecund enough to radiate new discursive tentacles. The consequent installation Post-entropy: Field Notes, the latest manifestation of this unfolding artwork, on view at the Students’ Biennale 2016, is a backward-jigsaw puzzle that invites its audience to piece together a past event through its ruinous traces, thoughtfully curated by artists who were asked to envision and stage the entropy of their former artwork (‘The Falling Leaf’) and repurpose its form. By projecting the aftermath of an event that is already over, Post-entropy: Field Notes invites meditations on the afterlife of an exhibition. What becomes of an exhibition and the works therein post its expiration date? What if the exhibition was a time capsule salvaged from the ruins of an apocalyptic disaster – what kind of fabulations about those who created it and the artworks therein, would it inspire in the alien investigating its archaeology? In this manner, Post Entropy: Field Notes continues our commitment to opening up and problematising existing definitions of everyday terms such as ‘artwork’, by presenting a shadow of the shadow in an unfolding mise en abyme.
D. Priyanka and Deepanshu Joshi working on the site specific installation Post Entropy: Field Notes, at the
MK Traders in Mattancherry, Kochi..
For more information on the Students' Biennale click here.