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Nirvana country. Land of fiery digestion. Home of Ayurveda. These are just some of the ways Indian artists from across the country and around the globe represent the nation in Indianama, a project by Delhi-based creative agency Animal that asked them to express what their “ version of what India means to them ”. From Saturday, February 10 to Sunday, February 18, one-off edition prints of their works, which are in the form of tourism posters, will be on display at design studio Kulture Shop’s Kala Ghoda boutique.
Indianama was conceptualised in 2016 by Animal as a way to mark 69 years of India’s Independence. Encouraged by the response, they decided to make it an annual event that explores a different medium and topic every year. The 2016 edition comprised 69 illustrations that looked at Indian history with each artist creating a work based on a specific event that occurred in one of the 69 years since Independence. For the 2017 instalment, 70 artists were invited to pick from a set of 70 themes to make travel posters using the medium of motion art.
Prints of over 50 works from Indianama 2017, which was exhibited at Kona in Delhi in August and travelled to the London Design Festival in September and the Planthouse gallery in New York, are being shown at Kulture Shop where they are available for sale. Many of the intricately detailed works cover such typical tropes as Bollywood, dance, festivals, music and mythology, while a few explore more recent subject matter such as technology and climate change. “There are facets not just traditional but also contemporary,” said Kunel Gaur, the founder creative director of Animal.
It’s with an eye to the future that Animal decided that this round of Indianama would entirely comprise motion posters such as “illustrations that were animated, films, cinemagraphs, 3D artworks or glitch art,” said Gaur. “All content whether it’s online or offline is going dynamic these days.” Among the mostly celebratory depictions are some subversive takes such as Sugandha Kharya and Anupam Singh’s ‘Two Indias’ in which street vendors’ signs cover the country’s most expensive residence, Mukesh Ambani’s home Antilia, and Adrita Das’s ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’, which is a nod to the Prime Minister’s penchant for hugging other world leaders.
Appropriately for an Independence-themed project, artists are given the freedom to interpret the theme however they like. The posters include some that envision a dystopian future, like the barren landscape of Siddharth Mate’s ‘Land of Sand Miles’. “It need not all be positive,” said Gaur. For Kulture Shop, which has been at the forefront of championing Indian graphic art, it made perfect sense to bring Indianama to its home base in Mumbai. According to co-founder and design director Kunal Anand, Indianama is important not only because it elicits artists to think but also because it shows the world there’s more to Indian popular art than kitsch. “It’s not just Bollywood and truck art,” said Anand. “The breadth is insane.”
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