Design Histories of Modern and Contemporary India

A symposium series organized by Tapati Guha-Thakurta and Ushmita Sahu
February – March, 2022
Online on Zoom

Click here to view the Seminar Details

This seminar series is an invitation to explore the ways in which a new aesthetic category of ‘design’ breaks free of the epistemologies of the colonial art establishment to emerge as an independent field of pedagogy, practice and creative livelihoods in twentieth century India. It hopes to lay out a chronology of design initiatives, design education and policies, and the making of the profession of designer, in different institutional sites, in areas ranging from printed texts to textiles, from architecture to animation, in post-Independence India.

A number of questions lie open for reflection. While practitioners have repeatedly highlighted the continuum between the domains of art, craft and design, how do the more established entities of ‘art’ and ‘craft’ extend or get morphed into new practices that take on the name of ‘design’? What enables the transitions between these related-but-separate creative circuits, in which ‘artists’ take on the vocation of ‘designers’? What are the various idioms of modernism in India’s design movements that draw as powerfully on contemporary international vocabularies as on the nation’s handicraft and folk-art traditions? In proceeding from the Nehruvian to the post-liberalization era, to what extent is this design history embedded in the patronage of state and industrial capital, in the mobilization of foreign expertise, and in the expansion of the manufacturing economy? How does this design history both feed into and define a new era of middle class tastes, life-styles and consumptions, alongside the expanding industry of publicity and advertising? Can we mark out a present conjuncture, in which histories of design are becoming a new focus of archiving, collecting and exhibiting?

Traces of Transference: An Exposition of Unseen Bearings

A part of the EA Locus in Focus programme, the exhibition brings forth regional narratives tied with universal concerns.
29th December, 2021 to 5th January 2022

Traces of Transference is an exhibition that marks the gallery’s first on-site residency offered to promising artists from East India. The display provides insight into five artists selected for the artist-in-residence programme through an open call – Arjun Das, Deepak Poulose, Gopa Roy, Moumita Basak, and Tahsin Akhtar.

The exhibition offers glimpses into a versatile range of creative outputs and features aesthetic sensibilities, including works completed during the month-long residency. Emerging from sensibilities deeply marked by the chaotic silence of the pandemic, the artworks show vulnerability and emotions, aiding the transference of the past to an imminent future.

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Documentaries