TAKE Black: Editor’s Note

In a time when magic realism retains neither its magic nor certainly it’s magical realism, a new magazine opens it’s doors wide open, in a neighbourhood familiar on the map of the art district, this too at a crucial period of global financial downslide, when recession has forced many in the art community to run scared. Announcing the launch of a magazine garnered more sympathies than enthusiasm from friends and colleagues. ‘Brave’ is the new adjective I hear often but what the heck, guys, it can’t get worse than this, so it’s as good a time as any to dream big. Waving off concerns about the global recession in 2008-09, the art market barrels ahead mining the emerging art communities this year in major metropolises in India and around the globe. Although auction results, new institutions and grandiose personalities continue to blast the headlines, non-profit initiatives [Devi Art Foundation, Khoj, FICA amongst others] and art academies are seeking advantage of the rising cultural importance of contemporary art to reinforce their own standing. Art is of course always in a state of flux- creatively, analytically and culturally. The issues and discursive patterns rising from a creative production need a parallel supplement of verbal or written elucidation to facilitate the condition of reception.

The thematic endurance of ‘Black’ helped crystallize the idea of streaming a publication. The concept ‘Black’ took root through a discussion with Ina Puri whom I would like to thank and acknowledge at the preset. During one of our numerous conversations, the concept of Black surfaced on the pretext of oddly, an exhibition. One thing led to another and my focus moved towards launching TAKE.

And the rest as the cliche goes ‘is history’. The word ‘Black’ has been shaded with numerous paradoxes through several decades the world over. It can be conceived as a color, an attitude or a psyche, fashion rhetoric or connotations subscribing to an ideology whether political or social. Given the bleakness of all that we see around us, the violence, the racial discrimination based on caste & color, it seems fitting that an issue should focus on ‘Black’ using it metaphorically and surrealistically as it exists in our minds, memories or even in Hindu myths & folklore (goddess Kali/demon Kaaliya Naga) or films we have grown up watching (Jagte Raho, Kala Bazar) and more recently Kaminey. Interestingly, gauged through a technical angle, black doesn’t qualify as a color per se and is often described as ‘achromatic’, or ‘hueless’, Edouard Manet, the initiator of the Impressionism movement commented in the nineteenth century, “Black is not a color.” For me, ‘Black’ explores the dark recesses of the mind, to the dark inconvenient truths around us that remain mostly hidden.

A chance discussion with Shaheen Merali [Guest Editor for TAKE Black, Issue 01] at the announcement party of the magazine and further tête-â-têtes in and around the India Art Summit triggered of a host of ideas. It strengthened the growing conviction within, for the need of a publication that not only grappled with the contextualized discussion fencing enquiries around the projects and dialogues surrounding art but also situating the social-political-economical solidarities and affiliations it emerges in.

A glimpse and read of TAKE would affirm intake of a global appetite sketching a panoramic view of an analogous pulse of the contemporary landscape pan-latitudes. Other innovations found in this issue are the brave responses to the challenge of describing works that are temporary and ephemeral in nature. Of course the experience of personally confronting art is undoubtedly inimitable and there is no substitute for looking at art in its intended context. In a modest and collective interest however, it has been an effort to consolidate information that would be impossible to gather without years of research, criss-crossing the globe that goes to Shaheen’s credit. From now on, TAKE hopes to provide a compact and rich resource that can be revisited time and again.

An equal laudable experience is of artists emphatically adapting interventionist attitude towards bridging the hiatus. Baiju Parthan confronts in his article the blackballed existence of ‘Lowbrow’ art globally while Sarnath Banerjee, Thukral & Tagra, Raqs Media Collective and Tejal Shah evolve through the graphical tool and the mechanism of photography, trajectories foregrounding ubiquitous subjectivities and politics. On the other hand, Pushpamala N in her garb of the ‘Phantom Lady’ ponders over in her text the notions of reclaiming a public space underscoring its condition as a result of political discrepancy.

A publication like TAKE is not aimed at creating or manipulating trends in art. Our purpose goes beyond reviewing recent and current developments that have been showcased in and outside galleries although they now play a central part in advancing and communicating art. Movements and trends in art exist within a public space, and the market that influence their form and content cannot be ignored. When an artwork incorporates movement or sound, when it is interactive in conception or uses a multimedia approach, it’s true representation is beyond the reach of any publication: it can only be re-produced statistically, shorn of its atmosphere. An elementary principle of this publication from its inception has been to forgo value judgments and pigeon-holing. These may have their place in reviewing the art of the past, but it would be premature and presumptuous to forestall the verdict of posterity.

I would like to thank all those who made TAKE a reality. Firstly to Shaheen Merali whose vision took ‘Simply Black’ to another level, without whom ‘Black’ would have been just ‘half black’. A special thanks to Chittrovanu Mazumdar for creating exquisite artworks in conjunction with our theme for the launch of TAKE Editions. My parents for their love and blessings, Meghna & Akhil Mehta and all my friends for their unstinting support.

A great 2010 to all our readers.

Bhavna Kakar
New Delhi

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About Author

Bhavna Kakar is an art historian, curator and art advisor with an MVA specializing in Art History from M.S University, Baroda. With a decade's experience in curating, researching and editing modern and contemporary art she essays dual roles as the Founder/Director of Gallery Latitude 28 and Editor/Publisher of TAKE on art magazine. She is based in New Delhi.

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