Brief CV
Deeksha Nath, born in 1976, is a New Delhi-based independent critic and curator. She is Desk Editor, Art AsiaPacific (New York) and ArtEast (Kolkata). She has published widely and contributed essays to the books Voices of Change: 20 Indian Artists (Marg, 2010) and Art and Visual Culture in India (1878-2008) (Marg, 2008). She is a former editor of the web journal Deeksha’s previous curatorial assignments have been with the Tate Gallery, London, and the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi. She has curated FIRST SHOWING, a series of first exhibitions of young artists, Seven Art Ltd, Delhi (2010), which traveled to Nature Morte, Berlin (2011); Astonishment of Being, Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata (2009); Immersions, Anant Art Gallery, Delhi (2009); co-curated Best of Discovery section, ShContemporary Art Fair, Shanghai (2008); Still Moving Image, inaugural exhibition of the Devi Art Foundation (2008); and House of Mirrors, Grosvenor Vadehra, London (2007). Deeksha was guest curator of the exhibitions Younger than Jesus at the New Museum, New York (2009), and Project 35, a traveling exhibition organized by Independent Curators International, New York (2010).
Curatorial Statement
Two thoughts that correlate the city and the body in matters of health are to be addressed in the performance project An Elixir Realigning.I Logic dictates that the health of a community reflects the health of their environment. And vice versa, if a city is healthy so are its residents. But by many accounts this is not the case, as Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet once wrote, “for all its rational efficiency and benevolent intent, the city is likely to be the death of us.” This unhappy prediction may not be far from the truth as the city breeds disease. Historically this is proven, outbreaks of cholera and plague for instance have happened in the megapolis’ of the world. So the city is unhealthy. And by all evidence of the ever-growing medical sector in all centers of civilization, the body is prone to sickness. II Architects at various points in history, notably the Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti and the modern master Le Corbusier, have used the proportions of the human body to improve the appearance and function of architecture. The latter built the city of Chandigarh in India to be analogous to the human body with a clearly defined head (the Capitol Complex), heart (the City Centre), lungs (the leisure valley, innumerable open spaces and sector greens), the intellect (the cultural and educational institutions), the circulatory system (the network of roads) and the viscera (the Industrial Area). Chandigarh is often seen as the prime example of the modern city; built after India gained its Independence, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru famously proclaimed the city to be "unfettered by the traditions of the past, a symbol of the nation's faith in the future."People who commute daily or migrate from villages and rural lifestyles to the city to seek their fortune and build better futures could very likely meet their death in them. Thus the city is both hope and despair. And, its dense environment offers both - opportunity for greater social interaction and loneliness/alienation. The health conditions facing cities and its residents range from infectious diseases, psychological disruptions, air and water pollution and barriers to health care either due to monetary or social reasons. Be it the frenzied expansion of cities such as New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur with little thought given to the strain on resources and infrastructure, or the city of Berlin where there is an attempt to build, reclaim and reestablish the flow that was stopped by events in history, so busy are we looking into the future that we choose to/ wish to/ have forgotten past knowledge systems that offer valuable resources for balancing both the human and city bodies to achieve a healthy quality of life. Rethinking the entire modernist approach to health and cities, the city too must be thought of as needing care to cope with the hopes and demands of its ever-increasing population. In presenting An Elixir Realigning, we question the modernist view that care and cure are rooted only in modern science. Thus the performances are set up to treat the city and the people - to touch and bring into focus both the external and internal points of flow. Drawing on traditional knowledge systems of various parts of the world and from the fruits of the earth, we brew an elixir, a healing concoction (though stopping shy of magic and mysticism for we are tiptoeing a fine line between tradition and contemporary, community belief systems and scientific knowledge) to realign the city, body and spirit. Addressing structural, physical and physiological conditions, our elixir consists of 7 ingredients: The base ingredient is water infused with the mineral strength of Fluorite to perfect physiological and psychosocial imbalances as well as strengthen human and urban skeletal structures. To this we add;Asafetida (also known as Devil’s Dung), a pungent smelling root extract, to harmonize tempers, reduce uncomfortable acidic eruptions and treat chest infections. Johanniskraut (called St. John’s Wort), to revive an exhausted, insomniac and depressive nervous system. Kakao (commonly known as cocoa and believed by Mayans to be a food of the gods ‘Kakaw’), a ritual beverage that has been used as currency and an aphrodisiac and is a potent exchange that protects the heart. Quecke (twitch or witch grass) is brewed to heal systemic disorders addressing the problems of kidneys and urinary tract and thus the expulsion of waste.Tualang Honey (Tualang tree, also Mengaris, Honey Bee Tree and Dëoh) is harvested from the world’s largest and fiercest honeybees who build their combs in the Tualang tree, Malaysia’s tallest tree. It inhibits the growth of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses to keep the body parasite-free, and is beneficial to women experiencing menopause.And finally Turmeric (in medieval Europe called Indian Saffron, in India called Haldi), an external applicant to cleanse and heal wounds and stimulate recovery. It is also a powerful anti-oxidant. We have selected to present performances to treat 7 sites along the Invalidenstrasse, the Street of the Invalids as it aligns itself perfectly with our several concerns. In the 13th century it was a road for the army. In the 18th century a street which sheltered refugees. One of the checkpoints of the Wall dividing East and West Berlin was located on this street. Today Invalidenstrasse, a busy street with several civic and cultural buildings can be regarded as a significant meridian that connects the city again. 7 is the number of chakras in the human body. 7 are the number of deadly sins and also the wonders of the world. In Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, there are 7 Endless: Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Despair, Desire and Delirium. 7 are the number of Holy men in Ancient Greece and China. 7 are the days it took the Christian God to create the world. 7 are the days in the week. We are 7 in our project. Deeksha Nath (curator)Karla Sachse (artist)Varsha Nair (artist)Sharon Chin (artist)Three students from Kurt Schwitters School: Lilian Kim Lukas, Aaron Schwägerl and Simón Troll
Projects realized (Selection)
Astonishment of Being, Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata 2009: The exhibition I curated at this non-profit grand dame institution in Kolkata asked 17 contemporary Indian artists to mull the question "how do we locate ourselves in the world today?" The question presupposes the collective, a collective constituted through our national, regional, linguistic, ideological, professional, gender, generational and vocational affiliates. The exhibition was an exercise in regarding ourselves – nation, polity, community; our context – political, social, economic; our actions – speech, militant, counter-militant, legal, resistant methodology peaceful and otherwise, discursive moments and/ or their absence. Through the paintings, sculptures, photographs, graphic novella, video and aural installations the artist examined and opined on the national space and revealed a variety of social-political violations and challenges in the context of the urban space, with the chasm between idealism and reality and at the core of the exercise was the searching spirit. Immersions, Anant Art Gallery, New Delhi 2009: The Gallery has been transformed into a series of sensorial immersive spaces. Environments have been constructed, chambers if you like, for the visitor to participate in an aesthetic experience. Artists have been invited to select their space in the gallery at the outset of the project and to negotiate with it, coax it and their constructions to work in tandem. The exhibition examines one of the key concerns for many creative practitioners: how to engage the emotions of the audience or user. Immersion is an interesting idea around which to consider the sorts of reactions and responses demanded of art audiences. The gallery is commonly referred to as the white cube, the ideal box with no imperfections or idiosyncrasies to mar the work. How untrue to think of this space as not charged with its own overpowering identity. So rather then denying the value of its spatial character, artists have been invited to work with it. A work inhabits many spaces, the mind of the artist, the studio, the gallery, sometimes a crate, a house, a storage space and so on. This exhibition allows artists to think of the gallery space as not just a ‘white cube’ but about the sorts of dialogues that may be generated between the artist, art work and the viewing space. Still Moving Image, Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi 2008: I curated the inaugural exhibition of this non profit contemporary art foundation in New Delhi. The exhibition was a selection of video and photography (drawing on the centrality of the moving image in India’s public domain) by 25 contemporary Indian artists. It brought to view key artworks and highlighted the aesthetic innovations made by visionary artists as they grapple with situating works within the context of post-independent modern Indian society, its advancements and concerns. The ideas which emerged in the exhibition may be characterized as an exploration of the axial position of the person in all experiences; a strident engagement with socio-political discourses; identity and how it is constructed through historical reading and the post-colonial situation; an examination of the role and meaning of globalization in India today and finally the honest documentation of the present which is also an aspiration of a better future.
Links Still Moving Image: iCI's Project 35: ShContemporary 08: