Veeranganakumari Solanki: What is your biggest inspiration to create art?
Nandan Ghiya: The Question that leads to another question. I’ve known, and have worked with you for some time now. We meet in such tightened/heightened situations that there is never a time for a heartfelt conversation, a curator and an artist getting to know each other, rather than merely being on assignment. I do not have an inspiration to create art. It is a habit, something that started at a young age and just stayed. If I had to pin inspiration down, then it’s in the things that have surrounded me: a Hindu upbringing, an education in Fashion, an obsession with cinema (especially Korean and Japanese), Rock and Roll, American pulp/pop culture. It all seems too bizarre and contrasting to fit together into one box...
NG: What is your biggest inspiration to curate? They say every artist has a recognisable style and technique. What is this like at the curator’s end? Do you also aim to achieve your unique standards as a curator?
VS: Ah, curating is quite similar, despite its outward appearance. IT begins with questions, reasoning, order...then I write it down, challenge it, create it, share it. In sharing these ideas, there are possibilities for concepts. Then it’s about making an idea work with a difference and challenging that difference to work with somebody else’s creations, and then translating it in a manner to acquaint the third party (a viewer) to engage with this idea and carry forward a thoughtform. It’s about taking something already existent and making it something else for later.
VS: How does creating a past in the future reflect in your everyday?
NG: I was an atheist, non- vegetarian, alcoholic, transiting towards a Saatvik regime. Now, I’m not obsessively health conscious, just curious about old school ways. I also fancy sending my son to a Gurukul and I’m intrigued by the idea of the Vanaprastha Ashram. Then there is the “average Hindu family”; usual ritualistic stuff, which I’ve rejected and taken for granted most of my life. Stuff that does not matter, for it’s just there, and has to be done for the sake of religion or tradition. I’ve a new- found liking for all things “traditional and there”.
VS: Guitars and graffiti? (Play us something: Listen to Image 2.)
NG: Haha! So I interned at an export house as a junior designer in Gurgaon. The internet and computers were exotic those days! My office provided a computer with a printer. The whole day, I would download chord progressions, sixties music art and posters’ images. I printed them and created personal encyclopaedias. To enhance the chord pages, I drew on them at times, Guitar-Mutant-Guitars!
NG: Horses and Art? (Take us for a ride: See Image 3.)
VS: That still connects with your practice! But for me, there’s no real connection between horses and art. Being a Sagittarian (“the most philosophical of all signs” said Jim Morrison), I’m allowed to be half horse – half human. Only a horseman will understand when I say a horse will teach you more about life than anything else will.
VS: Is there one incident from your personal experiences that you’d like to distort or erase in a manner similar to deFacebook but not connected to your art practice? Did this reflect into what you are creating at a later stage?
NG: Such a lovely question! deFacebook was conceived as an act of distortion of a personal experience. I didn’t even want to comment on social networking. I just wanted to settle a score with a certain childhood “bully” in the family. Gosh! I didn’t even realise when it ended up becoming an art practice.
NG: But this again brings me to a question. I’m an outsider artist, Vee. You on the other hand, are constantly engaging with artists. What is it in art that really turns you on? Idea? Technique? Socio-cultural relevance? Insights? Processes? And where and how do these channel through the curator?
VS: The new aesthetic! Re-inventing the known, challenging the confirmed, making you think, not letting you be, and creating new comfort zones only to push you back into the uncomfortable earlier known console. You’ve been engaging a fair amount with the concept of the new aesthetic, and though we have been discussing it for some time now, it’s slowly oozing out from various practices and corners of the world – first digitally and then spatially – like the unfocused pixel Rooster and the inertia of design in digital.
NG: The Digital Murdered Design. Or at least definitely paralysed it. Digital provides food for the glutton. Let the hungry harvest, let them at least reach out and ask for it! At least show off that hunger!
I teach at various Design Schools in Jaipur. On one particular Design Project, I suggested the students research Jaipur’s art and heritage in an effort to get them off the internet. Days later, students returned with visual research with Corbis watermarks. You see what I mean?
VS: Yes, but now, how do you straddle these worlds – your 3-D morphs, technology, antiques, old photographs, studios, toys, facebook, android? Can you connect the pixels?
NG: C’est moi! My most fascinating subject – the guy who does not have a Facebook account. So for obvious reasons, his art project is called deFacebook. Lets connect the dots with a deFacebook recipe in a few easy steps-
- Turn on the android tab, log on to the internet.
- Start surfing. Anything and everything is allowed...from Facebook to YouTube to online shopping via lurid websites!
- Surf more.
- And More.
- (.6.7.8) And more and more and more...
- … You’ll find yourself mentally and physically exhausted by the end of it, cursing the doctrine of the internet technology. Surf till you can declare it the most addictive substance or disease of them all. Now you have been upgraded from let’s say a mere parasite consumer to a critic.
- You are now one step away from upgrading further into the Creator of your very own deFacebook. You may not have realised, but during steps 2 to 8, you came across a glitch somewhere. The glitch visually appears to be a bunch of unnecessary, out of place pixels. It could be due to a bad network or poor resolution or incomplete downloads. Now we have acquired the quintessential ingredient.
- A few years may have passed during steps 2 to 8. Welcome back to the physical world. It is time to acknowledge the existence of a “real” studio, those toys in the attic, revered old family photographs and other vintage or antique memorabilia that just happened to define your cultural or ethnic identity once upon a time! Why, because now you have multiple virtual id’s and login names! Now that are back and you are angry and exhausted, you may start with deFacebook. Using the ideas of those glitches, you may now create either flat pictures for wall spaces reminiscent of that picturesque wallpaper of your tab screen or a “really real” 3-D Morph!
VS: deFacebook, the melancholic inertia of Facebook, in the inherent inertia of the past progressing into pixels of the future...
Veeranganakumari Solanki is a curator based in Bombay.
Nandan Ghiya is an artist living and working in Jaipur.