The Museum of Art and Photography (MAP) in Bengaluru opened for visitors last weekend with a new series, ‘Art is life: New Beginnings’ which will include week-long events from 18 to 24 February.
In December 2020, MAP launched a state-of-the-art virtual version and became the first new private museum to open in India in a decade. The museum is the brainchild of collector Abhishek Poddar and is led by director, Kamini Sawhney. Its architecture aims to “echo functionality and a sense of openness.”
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The museum has now opened its doors for people to explore their growing collection of 60,000 artworks in person. The 44,000 sq. ft building is divided into five storeys which include art galleries, an auditorium, an art and research library, a learning centre, a specialised research and conservation facility, as well as a terrace cafe. The building, designed by an Indian architect, Soumitro Ghosh, is focused on accessibility, to support visitors with special needs and disabilities.
Talking to Lounge’s Avantika Bhuyan last year Sawhney said, “MAP turned things on its head when it expressed itself digitally first during the pandemic. Traditionally, museums have had a physical space, after which they have tried to see how they could use digital to reach wider audiences. But we understand both as being integral to a museum functioning in a modern world,” she says. “They are different but complementary.”
In the opening week, MAP is hosting various events including talks, performances, and workshops along with much-awaited exhibitions. We take a brief look at four ongoing exhibitions.
There are four new exhibitions for visitors to explore. A three-year-long exhibition, VISIBLE/INVISIBLE, curated by Kamini Sawhney, Arnika Ahldag, Vaishnavi Kambadur, Riya Kumar and Arshad Hakim, “explores the visual representation of women through artworks in the collection” according to the curatorial note. It addresses preconceived ideas about femininity and gender as a social construct through art history to provide inclusive understanding.
This exhibition features around 130 artworks ranging from the tenth century to contemporary including sculptures, textiles, posters, paintings, and photographs. “They are interwoven into four key sections based on narratives and counter-narratives: Goddess and Mortal, Sexuality and Desire, Power and Violence, and Struggle and Resistance.”
Jyoti Bhatt: Time & Time Again
The exhibition showcases artist Jyoti Bhatt’s photographic works ranging from “iconic portraits of famous Indian artists, his invaluable documents of Indian rural and traditional village life, or his modernist and experimental photographs which redefined the possibilities of the medium” according to the curatorial note.
Curated by Nathaniel Gaskell, this is the first museum retrospective of Bhatt’s photographic works, drawn from an archive of over 7,000 prints and 10,000 negatives.
LN Tallur: Chirag-e-AI
This exhibition by artist LN Tallur from Karnataka “draws from traditional sculptures and lamps in MAP’s collection, to create intersections between artificial intelligence (AI) and ritualistic belief systems, challenging audiences to question humanity’s growing reliance on technological systems” according to the curatorial note.
This exhibition also reflects human’s inclination towards AI and how it can be used in artworks.
Stephen Cox: Dialogues in Stone
This exhibition features sculptures by Stephen Cox, a British sculptor who has spent a significant time working in India. The sculptures of Yoginis and Rishis are based on his observations of architectural sites and monuments and “embody mythical beings through minimalist forms.”
Cox has worked with local materials and used stone extracted from quarries near Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu.