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Co-Curato for Gessnerallee Zurich

For Gessnerallee, my larger vision is to make “political art popular”.

For me, Gessnerallee is the farming land, where we are seeding a new future.

The first year/season/programme, I am imagining preparing the land for farming.

First, you plow the land. Then you leave it, then you seed it, and then slowly the small plants will be seen. After that, the work is to keep watering it. In the context of programme and audience, it is to build trust with the people/audience/local residents. Building new communities/audiences is my primary practice, and I want to do that at this space as well. We will focus this season to both develop a new spectator/audience, and broaden the existing base. We do this with sensitivity, while giving some flavours of newness in terms of content, form and politics. Being an outsider, for me this season is also to understand and try out the limits of the audience in a very responsible and sensitive manner. And also prepare the audience for a new journey and value. For me, It’s a journey of growing/failing together.

Often, the stories of the people struggling on the ground are told by some third party, and that third party profits from the story in some way while the person whose experience it is, is exploited. I want to provide an opportunity, a platform for these less visible artists to express their stories for themselves, without a mediator interpreting the experience through the lens of someone with certain class privileges. I wish to develop a programme where we can invite and work with people who, although might not have a certain language, will have a large body of work, which can be seen and can be heard from them directly.

While having a different understanding and reality coming from India, I don’t want to only focus on the global south. I want to invite artists/activists from there, and also want to explore the other parts of the world. This will enhance my own understanding, build a new network and relation, and will help me to create a kind of interrelation among all the struggles around the globe. I also want to take this opportunity, to build a larger international network. I want to go beyond the representation identity of an indian curator.

Being a maker from a lower class background in a third world country, I know the limits and loopholes of institutions. It was very difficult for me, and so many of my friends could not carry art as a profession. This might be too harsh, but often only people belonging to a certain class reach the international market of art. The institutions do not need to be blamed but the structure and the system should take the responsibility. I feel that there should be a way of programming within the institution that allows space for the unknowns based on their good work, not by their names and status. My intention is to engage with these artists and their energies for a longer relation rather than just one show. I believe in building relationships; more than the work/product, I appreciate people, their energy and behaviours. We are not just inviting the artists' work, but we are inviting them. Having them also means giving time, conversations, and an investment in their future. The relationship that develops is part of the work, it is expressed in the work.

Although it is necessary to be able to approach the work with a critical mind, I also feel that the expression of emotions is important. Too often, the people who benefit from attention and resources are those who are able to use a particular kind of language to promote their work. We need to support those artists who may not be able to articulate their practice in writing or speech, but who are able to express their practice through the art itself. Having a large network of people/connections on ground, working hard, will help me to invite/programme/collaborate with these new energies, who are doing good work and need spaces/visibility. These are the people who need to be nurtured and need exposure.

Maybe by second year, I will also like to explore an imaginary school in the context of Gessnerallee, with young curators. This will give them space to imagine their ideal curation in current times with all the possible structural support. They are the future and they need to be with us on their journey. We need to support them in whatever possible ways. We will be learning/unlearning/failing/succeeding together.

Having two conversations with Rabea, gave me much faith and trust in the team. I believe it is achievable. I am glad to be with you all in this journey.

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