The Indian Art Summit was massively successful in attracting ordinary Indians to the idea of Contemporary art. The downside to this rush to embrace art is a confusing confrontation between viewers and artworks:
Bhavna Kakar of Delhi gallery Latitude 28 found chewing gum pasted on a Rajesh Ram bronze sculpture, and a sticker on a Dilip Chobisa glass installation. Abhay Maskara of Mumbai’s Gallery Maskara said he had to guard Shine Shivan’s sculpture Cock Dump — 14 stuffed cockerel bodies mounted on a table — for two days at the summit because people would keep touching it. Subodh Gupta’s tiffin boxes on a conveyer belt were merrily rearranged by the gallery staff, without the artist’s knowledge or consent.
The crush of eager viewers is not a common occurrence at art events in India. What is common, though, is the ignorance many display when they walk into a show. “Most people are not sensitised to artwork. If there is something on display, they must touch it to see if it is real,” says Maskara. International galleries at the summit put ribbons on the floor to mark a boundary and discourage people from touching the artwork. Few in the jostling crowds heeded the suggestion. “There is a tendency to pick up anything from a table, from visiting cards to pamphlets to books on sale,” says Kakar.
Etiquette often gets trampled over in Indian cities, while people are boarding trains or impatiently waiting out queues. Turns out that it fares a similar fate at art events: people can walk into a museum and demand that they be allowed to buy art, or simply refuse to keep their distance from artwork. If they like a work of art, they go up to the artist and ask for three of the same.
The Elephant in the Room is Not for Sale (Indian Express)