44. Worldly Affiliations and Indian Modernism with Sonal Khullar

44. Worldly Affiliations and Indian Modernism with Sonal Khullar

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“Personally, the failure reveals a lot more than the work that is slick, polished, successful.”

This week we speak with Sonal Khullar, Associate Professor Art History, on modern Indian art, nationalism, feminism and interdisciplinarity, based on her book Worldly Affiliations: Artistic Practice, National Identity and Modernism in India, 1930-1990 (University of California Press, 2015).

Timestamp Outline

1:18 Sonal Khullar’s book: Worldly Affiliations: Artistic Practice, National Identity, and Modernism in India, 1930–1990
1:34 Modern Art in India: pre- and post-1947
2:13 Artists: Amrita Sher-Gil, Maqbool Fida Husain, K. G. Subramanyan, Bhupen Khakhar
3:32 Edward Said’s “affiliation”; Gayatri Spivak’s “being in the world”
8:12 Bengal School criticism and a materialist/secularist turn
11:57 Gauguin’s primitivism
13:22 Partha Chatterjee on postcolonial difference
17:47 “Affiliation is an idea that I hope carries through, carries across. It is a notion...of cultivation against organic or inherited identities.”
19:33 On artists already established in the canon: “to rethink historiographies of national and global modernisms”
21:55 First two images in the book: a map of South Asia and Zarina Hashmi’s abstract rendering of country
27:15 Film: Through the Eyes of the Painter by Husain
33:38 Telling history through “haunting”: 1991, Walter Benjamin, and ruins
34:37 “The idea of the ruin helps me think about transition...the ruin can be reactivated for the present.”
36:38 “Haunting is a very effective way to think about the work of the past on the present.”
38:26 Christopher Pinney’s book Camera Indica: The Social Life of Indian Photographs
41:03 Sher-Gil and Frida Kahlo
42:51 An abundance of Sher-Gil biographies
46:52 Nasreen Mohamedi exhibit at the Met Breuer
47:33 On using the images of the artists
52:27 From Indian Pavilion in Venice Biennale to Kochi Biennale
56:04 “I am ambivalent about contemporary art. Sometimes I feel like an interloper in the world of contemporary art, even though this is the art of my time.”
57:06 Husain-Doshi Gufa
59:23 “Art historians are often interested in moments of transition, and moments of failure. Personally, the failure reveals a lot more than the work that is slick, polished, successful.”

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