TAKE Quarantine: Editor’s Note

Can one argue that COVID-19 was a galvanising force for major political uprisings? If the global contemporary and neo-liberal capitalism was already on the brink of collapse prior to this paradigm shift, the virus has only further emphasised the precarity and implicit inequality of such systems. Like a kettle on the boil, the pressurised conditions produced by these systems will eventually boil over levelling the liquids out of their vessels.

Thukral and Tagra, Aftermath – Swaminathan Commission Report – Serving and Saving Farming, Reports 1,2,3,4,5 + articles + reports on agrarian crisis, Inkjet print on paper with pesticide spray machine and wooden boards – 3-sec spray after every 30 minutes, 72 x 120 x 72 inches, 2019.

Looking internationally, we saw the Black Lives Matter move to the front of political discourse. Locally, farmers undertake the largest sustained protest India witnessed in the recent history. Closer to the home, our neighbours in Myanmar are engaged in an anti-military protest. In Australia, women rise up against archaic patriarchal systems of power. The cover of this issue features an artwork by Thukral and Tagra: Trolley Times—a biweekly tabloid designed and illustrated by the artist duo and published in Gurmukhi and Hindi since December 2020 as a response to the biased coverage of the mainstream media. These protests have laid bare the dire inequality across the country to the discontent of the right-wing government and the fringe groups.

Wherever you are, the first few months of 2021 has seen a continuation of the widespread devastation marked in 2020 by the global escalation of COVID-19 and the subsequent shift of international discourse, geopolitics, and the liveability index. This issue, Quarantine, responds to our new-found conditions and outlines a multiplicity of viewpoints on the topic highlighting the inherent tension, anxiety, and withdrawal marked by this period.

How do artists undertake international residencies without foreign travel? Akshay Pathak writes the insights from his institutional position as the Head of Pro Helvetia New Delhi. Reviewing MASH India’s digital show ‘Living the New Normal’, Indira Lakshmi discusses artists’ responses to the restrictive conditions of the new normal. Aparna Andhare reflects on the shifting role of the museums during the pandemic and outlines a radical re-thinking of audience engagement. Blessy Augustine—the winner of TAKE on Art’s Art Writers’ Award 2019–2020—reflects on her residency at Villa Sträuli, Winterthur which was cut short as the pandemic hit the world and discusses the idea of disruption within a variety of international practices.

TAKE Quarantine features two brilliant collections—Servais Family Collection and the very private Roohi & Rajiv Savara Family Collection. Alain Servais of the Servais Family Collection talks in length to Ramya Sarma about the art of collecting and his raw and unsettling, yet equally compelling collection. Featuring the Roohi & Rajiv Savara Family Collection, Shruthi Issac’s insightful piece reflects on a selection from the collection—‘Santiniketan Wall’ which features the stalwarts of Indian art to form a rich narrative from the Bengal School.

Furthermore, we pay homage to the pioneers whom we lost in the middle of the pandemic—Akbar Padamsee (Nancy Adajania), Anjum Singh (Manisha Gera Baswani), Ebrahim Alkazi (Ranjit Hoskote), Jyotsana Bhatt (Geeta Kapur), Satish Gujral (Indira Lakshmi), and Zarina (Renu Modi). It has been very emotional for all of us in the art world to witness departing of a bunch of stalwarts in the last few months. We will deeply miss their wisdom.

The issue also have a special section on Bengal art—a sequel to TAKE Bengal, our 25th issue, which has so far received rave reviews from our readership. Section editor Ina Puri reflects: ‘Navigating one’s way through the rich and diverse culture of Bengal could have been a challenge and we were able to accomplish this complex task thanks to the scholars, historians, and researchers whose expertise in the areas of art, cinema, music, and theatre made it possible to have in-depth studies on the subjects.’

The remotely produced issue has been delayed multiple times and is finally coming out. My sincere gratitude to the TAKE team especially Faris Kallayi and Tess Maunder for tirelessly working through the pandemic. Special thanks to all the patrons who have continued to support us in this difficult time.

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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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