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Verve Trendsetters
July 10, 2015

Independent Curator Shanay Jhaveri on Cultural Innovations

Text by Zaral Shah. Photograph by Julie Shalekenova

Having published two books – Outsider Films on India: 1950-1990 and Western Artists and India: Creative Inspirations in Art and Design – independent curator Shanay Jhaveri formulates unusual relationships between works

Beginnings  
“I have benefitted greatly from having a family that is involved with the arts. At Brown University I was taught to think critically and comparatively. I also have a PhD from the Royal College of Art, London. At the Palais de Tokyo, Paris in 2013, I curated the show Companionable Silences — a presentation that revolves around one painting, a work called Self-Portrait as Tahitian by Amrita Sher-Gil.”

On contemporary Indian art
“I believe there is some good work taking place in India. With regard to curators, with the absence of a very active institutional infrastructure, and very few private museums, they have to demonstrate great agility and resourcefulness. Also, the West’s appreciation of Indian art is shifting and changing. In recent times, there’s been an active unbinding in academic and critical discourses along with curatorial exhibitions of modernism from a purely Western legacy.”

On storytelling through art
“I am very interested in the moving image. In the programmes I put together, I always try to formulate relationships between works that would never appear alongside one another, developing a constellation which asks questions instead of offering definitive statements. Companionable Silences and Outsider Films on India at Tate Modern are two programmes I have curated, and Questions of Travel was an exhibition.”

Working philosophy
“My process is intensively research oriented. With my books, even after their publication, I continue to discover related material. Thus, the publication of the book does not mean that my research ends, but it grows and amplifies.”

Future forward
“I am working on a new project titled Chandigarh: is in India. It will look at all the artistic responses the city has generated since its conception. In August, I will curate a show of works by photographer Raghubir Singh at the Jhaveri Contemporary gallery. I will also be editing Hans Ulrich Obrist’s The Indian Interviews. I am curating the film programme for the third Dhaka Art Summit in February 2016. I am contributing essays to the publications that will accompany the retrospective shows of Nasreen Mohamedi at the Reina Sofía, Madrid and Bhupen Khakhar at the Tate Modern.”

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