The Exhibition Site Today
The World Today
Zero Hour: What’s Happening So Far
The Mind Puts Order to Things
The process of creating an art event is itself a creative process, a work of artistic endeavour.
In that sense, this IS an art project, right here, on this screen. And by coming to this site, you have inevitably become complicit: a visitor to our project. You did not have to do anything more than move the tip of your finger to participate.
You are in!
Now we want to take you behind the scenes, to the part that few people think about: that art events need to be conceptualised, curated, organised, worked on, planned and physically set up. And that all this can not be done without money!
Of course, how much deeper you want to go, depends on you, and whether, at the end (3. — 10. November), you will feel animated to leave this virtual space to make an actual physical journey, a journey to a real physical place: Gunehar Village, Himachal Pradesh, India (link map).
Art does not always need a physical place, it can simply be in a space in your mind, fed by snippets on this screen. In that sense, this site itself will become a work of art, documenting the days leading up to the event (see below). This site will then become a living documentation of the state of the arts in India.
From 2013 onwards, the 4tables Project (link) has been hosting conceptual art events in this little village in India. Our flagship, month long, process oriented open art project is the triennial ShopArt ArtShop (2013, 2019). It is a one-of-a-kind, highly praised and well-visited conceptual art event, unique in India. The next edition is planned for May-June, 2019.
In 2017, we planned another art event, IN THE WOODS, which was literally held in a forest above this village. Now we are in the process of creating a second IN THE WOODS. For this purpose, we have been in talks with the relevant departments of the HP Government, since we are unable to carry the costs on our own any longer. These talks are ongoing, and so far, inconclusive (as of 6. October, 2018)!
The idea is to host one art event every year, in this order:
This virtual space IS the beginning of the second edition of IN THE WOODS. As we declared when we started this page: “this is an open-ended process that might, or might not, lead to an actual, physical exhibition”. We are glad that all uncertainities are over and ITW-2 is set to tale place, opening on 2nd Nov., 2018.
It is a suspense thriller of sorts, a “how to do it and what will happen next” drama.
BUT, WHY IS THIS SO?
To start with, it is absolutely legitimate to have an art project on the net.
But this was not, and still is not, the original intention.
The original intention is to host IN THE WOODS-2 from 3. to 10. November, in the actual forest location. The original intention is to invite exciting artists to exhibit their work IN THE WOODS. The original intention is to animate authorities, industry and art foundations in India to support our innovative events which are rare opportunities for Indian artists to work and exhibit, as well as a diverse public to experience art free from the intimidating atmosphere of city-centric art spaces.
Whether IN THE WOODS can happen beyond a second edition, or must be given up, is an open question.
Art and MONEY
Money and ART
Art needs money, not just because artists are professionals, like doctors, computer engineers or plumbers, but also, because to host exhibitions is a logistical enterprise that requires finances to pay for the artists, transport of art works, art materials, travel costs, infrastructure, hirings, publicity etc.
In India– like anywhere else but particularly in India– money for art is hard to come by. Moreover, it is extremely difficult to convince partners that there are more variations of events than music, lit-fests or Indian classical music and dance performances.
We have so far created opportunities to work and display artistic talent for over 40 artists (link to youtube). So far, these artists have covered extremely interesting and conceptually complex artistic fields: Sound Art, Experimental Music, Local Music, Splatter Films, Installations, Public Space Restorations, Architecture, Flower Art, Documentary Films, Fashion, Ceramics, Abstract Paintings, Wall Painting, Food, Virtual Reality…
Our events have been visited by thousands of people, and been publicised in all major national media.
For all our projects so far, we have spend a total of around 40,00,000,- Indian Rupees, that is just 55500,- US$ at today’s exchange rate. None of this money came from sponsors, foundations or government institutions. About 20% of the total expenditure came from crowd-funding.
Thats ONLY 100000,- Indian Rupees, or 1350,- US$ per artist!
Or, if we take a footfall of 15000 visitors (this is a conservative estimate) since 2013, that’s 266,- INDIAN RUPEES, or 3.5 US$ per person.
With these kind of figures, one should think we would have no difficulty in raising the funds necessary to keep our projects alive. The reality is, though, that just a few weeks before our events, we do not know how to cover the costs of our endeavours.
Conceptualising an art event is a complicated matter, and so far we have managed to do what we have promised. But unless there is a broader coalition of stakeholders in this country, that is, unless the country ITSELF has the will, and the logistics, to support such enterprises, these will remain futile enterprises.
What’s happening so far (DAILY UPDATE!)
The exhibition finally did take place and touched many. Let the visitors speak:
This has been an incredible process! Only 9 days before opening, we did not even know if the event was happening. With very little time, and minimum resources, we have managed to pull off the most incredible, cutting edge exhibition.
1 Nov.: Teasers
30th oct.: artist line-up:
Four Missing Fingers
24th Oct.: a short video about work starting today. we don’t have funds for a film-maker, so these are mobile phone edits.
22nd oct.: we are unwavering, but still waiting for permits, funds and final go-ahead from admin/govt/aiuthorities
20th oct.: still no clarity about govt support and the amount we can expect.
17th oct.: in our discussions over a period of nearly 2 years, and especially in the last half a year, the budget we had originally presented kept being cut, until we are left with a tiny fraction of what is needed. so while we originally intended to invite 2 artists for the exhibition, and get their work transported to the location, we first had to save money by uninviting the artists, and now also not having enough funds to even transport the art works. this is the irony, that the exhibitions needs to be held WITHOUT ARTISTS and ARTWORKS!
on the other hand, what has been achieved so far is enormous, especially in a country that has many more pressing priorities. that the government has been involved, and have themselves come up with plans to support contemporary art initiatives is is a huge step and shows that the country and its institutions are gradually evolving towards an understanding about the importance of arts.
16th oct.: it is not possible to nurture arts if the two main players, the government and the industry, are not part of the equation. in this case, the govt has shown some interest and have agreed to support us, which is a giant step forward. on the other hand, the support is so little that it shows a total lack of understanding about the real costs of hosting art events of the scale we do. somehow, art is still considered a ‘hobby’ more than an occupation.
13th oct.: the TRIGARTHA KANGRA CULTURE FESTIVAL is like an umbrella festival of all culture and art stakeholders of the kangra valley. the idea, put forward by dept. of culture, hp govt., is t0 coordinate the dates of culture activities and bring stakeholders together for a valley-wide art and culture week/10 days. ITW-2 should be part of this coordinated effort, which is a great idea!
12th oct: in a meeting of different art and culture organisations and institutes of kangra, called by the HP dept of culture and presided over by DC, Kangra on the 10th, stakeholders put forward their ideas and programs that can be combined to create a valley-wide coordinated art and culture event during november. the initiative, to be funded by the govt, is to be called TRIGARTHA KANGRA CULTURE FESTIVAL, under the umbrella of which ITW and SAAS, Dharamshala Film Festival (DIFF) and others can receive funding for their programs. are we now part of this?
10th oct.: meeting regarding TRIGARTHA kangra festival was held at DC, Kangra office at 12.30. 24 days before ITW-2, we still do not know which direction the show is going but for us, as a first step, we want government participation and support for our events to be sustainable. admired the dc’s energy and focus to get things done!
9th oct: idea floated that ITW-2 coincides with the upcoming paragliding pre-world cup, which will be held in bir-billing from 27 oct — 3 nov, 2018. an application to this effect was send to SDM, kangra office by 4tables.
parallel conversations ongoing with HP dept of culture about ITW-2 being part of a valley-wide art festival with different organisors, galleries, institutions etc. for this, a meeting of all stakeholders will be held on 10. oct at the DC, Kangra office
8th oct: Meeting at DC, Kangra office results in the floating of the idea that the paragliding pre-world cup and ITW-2 are coordinated, and the revised ITW budget be presented as part of the package
7th oct: news comes in that the planned bhubaneswar art trail, a program much like our own SAAS (artists walk, residency and work on sire, exhibition for final week) is in jeopardy because of govt of odissa’s inability to commit, even after 2 years of negotiations. news also comes in of bansky painting self distructing.
6th oct: a visit to the ITW site reveals that 1) the bir-billing road is in bad condition; and 2) the site itself has deteriorated in the year since we had cleared it up last. garbage, plastic and especially broken alcohol bottles all over. the paths and walls we had restored have been damaged by rain.
5th oct: conversation with chief secretary of HP Govt, dept of culture, dr purnima chauhan about the department’s laudable plan to create an umbrella organisation called TRIGARTHA for kangra district to coordinate all art and culture related matters
4tables launches its ‘current projects’ site with ITW-2 in mind, but without any clear assurance that the budget will be allocated for the event. because of time constraints, we have been working on a minimum budget plan for ITW-2 now, called “Blackbox #1, #2 and #3
4th oct: interesting conversation with sound artist nikhil narendra about a 4 channel soundscape of urban themes for one of the blackboxes in the woods
3rd oct: re-designing the original ITW-2 plan because of insecurity regarding budget and time constraints. in this short time, it is impossible to attract good artists to the exhibition, so the idea now is to use digital versions of their works.
1st oct: DC, Kangra, mr sandeep kumar, stays a night with us and get acquainted with our work, including SAAS and ITW
22. sept: after waiting and numerous inconclusive discussions, 4tables takes the step of announcing THE NO-BUDGET ART SHOW: IN THE WOODS-2, declaring: “last year, the space you see on the poster was the site of an exciting art exhibition. will the site remain empty this year? will it fill up with art? will there be music? whose responsibility is it to keep innovative art events alive in india? we will document each step from now on, here on facebook, on our website blog, and finally on site from 3. to 10. november.”
september, august, july, june; conversations with HP Govt, dept of culture began in june. original planning for ITW-2 started in june, with originally the artist chittrovanu mazumdar in mind. chief secretary of dept of culture, dr purnima chauhan, visits 4tables in july to gain insight in the work and promises govt intervention to keep our art events alive.
february: original application of co-operation between 4tables and dept of tourism submitted to dtdo, dharamshala. the application was neither forwarded to DC, Kangra office, nor to dept of tourism, shimla!