At the onset of the new year it’s almost ritualistic to look back and muse over the year gone by and the body of work produced via the various projects undertaken by TAKE on Art and Gallery Latitude 28. It’s amazing how events – merely a few months old – metamorphose into memories, evoking a sense of nostalgia.
With the latest edition of TAKE on Art, we stepped into hitherto unchartered territory bringing a completely fresh perspective of looking at fashion. Breaking away from the traditional essay format, we explored the Indian fashion landscape spanning a century, from the 1920s to contemporary times. As the iconic Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” We don’t just wear it, we live it, and to some extent, this sentiment is amply articulated in the pages of this special issue.
There are a thousand India’s within our nation; in attire, in lifestyle, in socio-economic fabric. Owing to this kaleidoscopic cultural heritage and various socio-economic shifts in the Indian society — from the pre-Independence era till now — our issue explores the amalgamation of native sensibilities with global influences through the decades. Starting from the British rule and later during the Freedom Movement in the 1920s-40s (with the emphasis on indigenous weaves such as Khadi) followed by the vibrant hues and prints of the flower movement – whose effects percolated from the West to Asian cultures. Following this was the huge cinematic influences of the 1970s and 1980s, and then from the 1990s, the exploration of modern fashion photography on a global scale which in turn led to the evolution of the robust Indian fashion industry.
Under the aegis of the event ‘Scenes from the Making of a Modern Nation’ at the Bikaner House between 18th-27th August 2018, an interactive session was held for this special issue helmed by the Guest Editor, Mayank Mansingh Kaul with Shrinjita Biswas, Suyashi Smridhi and the rest of the TAKE Team who facilitated conversations with visitors both walk ins and on invitation, dwelling upon their associations and reflections on Indian fashion, including inputs from Samar S. Jodha, Ashdeen Z. Lilaowala, Ashwini Pai Bahadur, Geeta Khanna, Gopesh Pratap Singh, Hemavathy Guha, Seema Kohli, among many others. Many of these are drawn from a series of interactions between August-November 2018, infinite e-mail exchanges and phone conversations. They form an anecdotal network of personal, familial, professional and social histories, asking for the need to record and present perspectives on Indian fashion, which are diverse to finally arrive at written and visual material for the special issue, an exercise, which proved to be both tedious yet exciting all at once. Some of the invaluable contributions from these interactions over this period are from Priya Paul, Asha Kochhar, Anubhav Nath, Arunima Subramaniam, Avantika Bhuyan, Bandana Tewari, Ina Puri, Seema Bhalla, Shalini Passi, Shreya Ray, amongst others.
Like tiny pieces of thread that come together to weave a beautiful tapestry, these memories and anecdotes thus form a significant part of this labour of love. We are proud of the final outcome, and hope that our readers also find it equally thought-provoking and relevant.
Our educational outreach initiative TAKE on Writing series embarked on a critical art writing workshop at the invitation of Indian Ceramics Triennale, from the 15th-18th November 2018. The Correa-designed Jawahar Kala Kendra at Jaipur worked as the perfect foil for the highly intense and interactive workshops conducted by R Siva Kumar and Skye Arundhati Thomas. The workshop saw participation from editors, writers, art museum managers, students and many more from myriad walks of life, coming from different parts of the country. Soon thereafter, TAKE on Writing series in collaboration with Department of Art History and Aesthetics, Faculty of Fine Arts, MSU Baroda and Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council, New Delhi presented ‘Readers of All Countries, Publish.’ Conducted by Andreas Vogel and Tania Prill, this refreshing, albeit hectic, one-day workshop saw young writers and critics converge in Baroda to exchange ideas and write, compose, design and duplicate manifestos on publishing, on the basis of readings provided in the workshop. 2018 was also a landmark year for us as we initiated our long-term dream of an award aimed solely for writers in the arts. The Art Writer’s Award [AWA 2018-19] is in collaboration with Pro-Helvetia Swiss Arts Council and facilitates a candidate for a 45 day residency at Villa Sträuli in Switzerland for research and travel. There is much to anticipate as we inch towards new exhibitions at Gallery Latitude 28, participation at IAF, and our annual TAKE Party. As a tradition the TAKE party kick-starts the India Art Fair every year, a time of the year that brings in so much infectious energy, effervescence and buzz to the Indian art world and Delhi.
New Delhi, 2019