Nancy Adajania – Nothing Primordial About It: The Political Ecology of Adivasi Art 

Wednesday November 22, 2023
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Image: Shantibai, Untitled, 2020. Courtesy of The Guild Art Gallery.

Please join us for a lecture by Mumbai-based cultural theorist and curator Nancy Adajania, presented by the Critical Image Forum in collaboration with the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory and the Surrey Art Gallery.

All are welcome.

Nothing Primordial About It: The Political Ecology of Adivasi Art  
A lecture by Nancy Adajania 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023
12:30–1:30 p.m.
Room 1002, Audain Art Centre
6398 University Blvd

Nancy Adajania is a cultural theorist and curator based in Bombay. She was Joint Artistic Director of the 9th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2012). She has curated a number of exhibitions including, most recently, ‘Woman Is As Woman Does’ (CSMVS Museum with JNAF, 2022), a first-ever intergenerational mapping of the works of Indian women artists, filmmakers and activists against the backdrop of the women’s movement in India. She conceptualised and led the online workshop Once Upon a Cultural Famine: A Curatorial Thought Experiment for the Kochi Biennale Foundation (2021). Adajania’s other major research-based exhibitions include the retrospectives of artists Navjot Altaf, Sudhir Patwardhan, Mehlli Gobhai and Nelly Sethna. And ‘Counter-Canon, Counter-Culture: Alternative Histories of Indian Art’, which constructed a pre-history for Indian new media art practices (Serendipity Arts Festival, 2019).   

Adajania has proposed several new theoretical models through her extensive writings on subaltern art, media art, public art, collaborative art, transcultural art and the biennale culture in the Global South. For more than two decades, she has written on the practices of women artists of several generations by deploying a trans-disciplinary approach that melds art history, feminist theory, anthropology, activism and philosophy.  

Adajania has edited two transdisciplinary anthologies, Some things that only art can do: A Lexicon of affective knowledge and Totems and taboos: What can and cannot be done for the Raza Foundation (2017/2018). Her recently published curatorial monograph on the Sudhir Patwardhan retrospective (‘Walking through Soul City’, 2019), includes new readings of the artist’s practice, as well as a rare contextual mapping of the relationship between Leftist politics and art, annotated through a translation of primary textual material from Marathi activist literature.


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