The fourth edition of the Delhi Contemporary Art Week (DCAW) a week-long public celebration of contemporary art by seven galleries kick starts today at Bikaner House. Blueprint 12 (Ridhi Bhalla and Mandira Lamba), Exhibit 320 (Rasika Kajaria), Gallery Espace (Renu Modi), Latitude 28 (Bhavna Kakar), Nature Morte (Peter Nagy), Shrine Empire (Shefali Somani) and Vadehra Art Gallery (Roshni Vadehra) will feature a stellar line-up of artists.
Committed to the vision to educate, showcase and promote contemporary art, this edition, in an ongoing pandemic, has interesting events in the pipeline. The Morning Standard speaks with Latitude 28’s Bhavna Kakar, one of the seven members of DCAW 2021, on the occasion of its launch.
How is this edition different from the previous ones?
After over a year of dormancy in the physical art scene, DCAW looks to this venture being a reawakening, of sorts, as we collectively strive to get the art sector back on its feet. We have programmed DCAW 2021 in such a way as to create accessible platforms for knowledge sharing, meaningful exchange and art education outreach, both physically and digitally. I have enjoyed curating the Conversations Salon that is a brand new element to DCAW’s programming, under which we are launching the residency book of the Artist Writers Award 2020 awardee Blessy Augustine, ‘Pecha-Kucha’ style artist talks, and a series of panel discussions, featuring eminent figures in the art scene such as Ashok Vajpei, Kavita Singh and Tasneem Mehta among others.
Take us through your programming this year.
There has been a fresh and innovative approach to the programming of this year’s DCAW, with more events, talks, workshops and more. DCAW is taking place at a new venue, the heritage building Bikaner House, renowned for its grand main ballroom and characteristic architecture. We are wholly utilising its spacious interiors and beautiful outdoor areas with a vibrant program of events. This includes artist led workshops for all ages; ‘Pecha-Kucha’ style artist talks, panel discussions with eminent figures of the Indian Art Scene and an exhibition; RESIDUES by Reha Sodhi, featuring works by artists Anupama Alias, Khadim Ali, Niyeti Chadha Kannal and Wardha Shabbir from LATITUDE 28’s segment of DCAW alongside selected works from partner galleries; and walkthroughs by DCAW gallerists and curators.
Did the pandemic inspire any kind of art trends among artists?
As with all catastrophic global events which have gone before us, the world wars for example, we have seen a marked shift in cultures of art making and viewer perception. At the beginning of the pandemic we saw an exponential rise in galleries and institutions populating the virtual domain - while this was a knee-jerk response for some, we have seen genuine ingenuity in the development of online viewing platforms and interactivity with works of art. I feel that creative practitioners are reconsidering the way we use the virtual domain. We live in a unique time where selfreflection among the art community, and the sharing of ideas, happens at warp speed with the instantaneous nature of social media. We have a p h e n ome n o n where an entire generation is simultaneously living through the most disruptive set of conditions in their lifetime and self-actualising in response.