Indian Colonialism Explored in New Film Installation at NAE

Seventy years after Indian independence, New Art Exchange exhibit Bhairav, a newly commissioned film installation by Nikhil Chopra and Munir Kabani exploring the colonial landscape of Goa, then and now.

Seventy years after Indian independence, New Art Exchange exhibit Bhairav, a newly commissioned film installation by Nikhil Chopra and Munir Kabani exploring the colonial landscape of Goa, then and now.

Bhairav is the creation of leading Indian contemporary artists, Nikhil Chopra and Munir Kabani, also featuring artists Madhavi Gore, Sajan Mani and musician Ustad Bahauddin Dagar. Filmmaker Munir Kabani is an international lens-based artist who has exhibited widely, including the prestigious 54th Venice Biennale and Nuit Blanche New York. Bhairav is co-directed by internationally renowned Nikhil Chopra, an artist merging live art and drawing. This exhibition follows his major solo show at Southbank Centre in 2016, and his current site-specific installation at this year’s documenta, Athens.

Bhairav is a collaborative film installation, extending upon the artists’ unique practices and drawing on overlapping threads which are pertinent to the landscape, history and identity of Goa. The result is a reflective and compelling film, poetically exploring themes of hierarchy, spirituality, and the relationship between classical values and contemporary culture. The exhibition launches on 15 July 2017, with a series of durational live art performances by the artists occurring over 12 hours on the day prior.

Bhairav is newly commissioned as part of Arts Council England’s national celebration of Indian independence, Reimagine India, and forms an iteration of the partnership project Here, There and Everywhere, led by New Art Exchange, and taking place across the UK and India throughout 2017 until March 2018. Skinder Hundal, CEO of NAE explains the significance of showing Bhairav featuring as part of Here, There and Everywhere on this significant historical year.

“We are very excited about this important moment that synchronises the 70th year of India’s independence and birth of Pakistan, showing the film installation Bhairav, and live art performance by leading artists from India at the launch weekend. The exhibition is part of ‘Here, There & Everywhere’, a partnership which we have led, encouraging new dialogues and allowing long term developments emerge, benefitting our respective art ecologies and future legacy. It is important for the UK arts sector to reach out globally, more so in times of uncertainty, to ensure sustainability and stability for the artists and art forms to flourish and this new partnership is already delivering strong results.”
Bhairav takes its name from a raag – a meditative South Asian classical music performance that represents man’s connection to nature. Bhairav is said to be the oldest raag in existence and symbolises the break of morning and new life, and within the film installation it is performed by renowned musician Ustad Bahauddin Dagar- ancestor to the original composer. The soundtrack sets the film’s reflective and spiritual tone and the central theme of the passing of time.

Bhairav opens with Sajan Mani, a performative artist who uses his body as a medium to confront issues of caste. Mani’s labouring black body relentlessly hammers nails into wood to adhere a large piece of canvas – a commentary on skin politics defining his social standing, as well as a subtle nod to the canvas and the wood of sail boats and flags, symbols of colonial history.

Mani’s performance represents one of many journeys within Bhairav, both geographically and temporally. Starting from a rural setting, his journey leads him through man made paths and walls, to a grand Goan Portuguese house. He pulls canvas through the agricultural landscape like a bull tilling the land, yet by the time he reaches the abode, the context transforms the canvas into a fine art material, used by Nikhil Chopra for landscape drawing. Within the film, Nikhil Chopra’s live drawing records the activity occurring within the house, showing the impact of man and culture on physical surrounding.

Multi-disciplinary artist, Madhavi Gore, uses live art to explore gendered experiences and her identity as a mother. In Bhairav, her enactment of childbirth is set to an audio recording of her own voice during labour. Her presence represents the significant female voice in a story of colonial history which is often overlooked.

The creation of Bhairav concludes on Friday 14 July, where a 12 hour programme of multidisciplinary/live art draws upon elements of the film. Sajan Mani cycles from Mansfield to New Art Exchange – a route chosen by the artist on account of Mansfield’s mining industry. In New Art Exchange’s inner-city neighbourhood, Madhavi Gore occupies a shop window as a performative space interrupting people’s daily experiences. The eminent rudra veena player, Ustad Bahauddin Dagar will be performing a midnight raag, accompanied by Nikhil Chopra who will perform a live drawing, creating a new work that will be on display at New Art Exchange as part of the exhibition. On Saturday 15 July, as part of the exhibition launch, there will be an in conversation with the artists: Munir Kabani, Nikhil Chopra, Ustad Bahauddin Dagar, Madhavi Gore and Sajan Mani.

Exhibition details
Bhairav Performances: Friday 14 July – Saturday 15 July, TBC
Exhibition launch: Saturday 15 July, 6pm – 9pm (Q&A, 6.30pm)

New Art Exchange, Gregory Boulevard, Nottingham, NG7 6BE

Editor’s Notes

A selection of images can be downloaded from Dropbox:

For further images and to arrange interviews/photo opportunities contact Laura-Jade Vaughan: [email protected], 0115 924 8630

Developed and commissioned by the artists with New Art Exchange, Nottingham and Chatterjee and Lal, Mumbai.

Here, There and Everywhere
Bhairav is part of Here, There and Everywhere, an artistic collaboration between India and the UK. Here, There and Everywhere is a Midlands-London consortium led by New Art Exchange with Delfina Foundation, QUAD/FORMAT, Primary and mac Birmingham. Supported through funding by Arts Council England and British Council as part of Reimagine India.

About New Art Exchange
A contemporary art space committed to stimulating new perspectives on the value of diversity within art and society. New Art Exchange is the largest space in the UK dedicated to culturally diverse contemporary visual arts, and is rooted in the community with a strong history of working with minority communities. Past exhibitors include: Yinka Shonibare, Zarina Bhimji, John Akomfrah, Christian Marclay and Elizabeth Price (British Art Show 7), Rashid Rana, Zineb Sedira, Leo Asemota, Raghu Rai, J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere and Hetain Patel. NAE’s mission is to raise the impact, profile and development of culturally diverse contemporary visual arts and artists in a global context by: nurturing and promoting creative talent locally and worldwide, creating thriving creative businesses, and engaging minority ethnic communities as audiences and patrons of art.

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