60 Years of Gallery Chemould 'CheMoulding: Framing Future Archives' curated by Shaleen Wadhwana now open

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60 Years of Gallery Chemould 'CheMoulding: Framing Future Archives' curated by Shaleen Wadhwana now open
Anju Dodiya, The Wedding , 2023. Oil on Linen, 18 x 24 in, 45.7 x 61 cm. Copyright The Artist.

MUMBAI.- CheMoulding creates multiple entry points into six decades of Indian contemporary art. It recognises the art frame ‘moulding’ company and gallery that continues to mould Indian art history and its contemporary present. The continuous suffix ‘ing’ makes Chemould a verb — the act of creating fearless spaces for artistic freedom since 1963. Such spaces remain threatened in our present and our future.

Chemould built its archive to honour its 60 year milestone. From this archive — architectural motifs, photographs, Parsi community history, maps, exhibition catalogues, letters, objects, floor plans, frame mouldings, oral histories and personal memories, serve as inspiration to artists.

CheMoulding unpacks human needs in the Indian context through showcased artistic responses.

In Part 1 Framing we laid open our past selves to an honest re-examination of what-ifs, not what-abouts.

In Part 2 Futuring we question who we are becoming and where we find ourselves in the future.

"In the second show, opened November 15th, this conversation looks forward to the future. We envision where we are in our present, and where we are going through the lens of our present realities, disruptions and how we want the world to be shaped in the coming decades. So specifically technological advancements which change our perception of reality, timeless truths which outlast us - love, death, family, idea of home - our future in peril from the distortions of history, destructions of minorities, ideas of 'otherness' and our internal battles with whatever is too different than us. All of this too greets us in our future. With Futuring, we try to unpack all this - keeping an eye on our past while looking towards the future." -Shaleen Wadhwana

Futurists actively view the present world as a window to possible future outcomes. By this definition, we are all futurists. However, in reality, actively viewing the present means to confront the timeless truths which outlast us — love, grief and loss, a sense of belonging and comfort (or lack thereof), our internal battles with all that differs from us.

Archival material cautioning against futures of distrust and hatred fuelled by ‘othering’ form the beating heart of this exhibition. Our collective responsibility to record our dissent as we witness contemporary violence is highlighted with textual references about historical erasure and artificial intelligence (AI) systems echoing the same. Neither AI, now we, are exempt from our inherent biases.

The central nucleus of both exhibitions is the architectural intervention that brings two histories together; the current (2007-onwards) Chemould Prescott Road intersected by the old (1963-2007) Gallery Chemould structure within it. Its womb-like concave room cradles future landscapes of art, critically looking within and beyond arts institutional infrastructures. Its convex wall displays the ‘CheMoulding Archival Timeline’ researched by us from 700 CE to future forecast trends until 2050 through the lens of Chemould in Bombay. The timeline acknowledges an India where climate crises will soon outweigh its economic progress, and yet envisions a future for art in it.

Together, Framing and Futuring make CheMoulding a space where archives are framed contextually for our future generations, with an invitation to reflect and do better. - Shaleen Wadhwana.

Participating Artists: Anju Dodiya, Aditi Singh, CAMP + Mohit Shelare, himanshu S & aqui T, Dayanita Singh, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Jitish Kallat, Lavanya Mani, L N Tallur, Nilima Sheikh, Pushpamala N, Rashid Rana, Reena Saini Kallat, Yardena Kurulkar.

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