DELHI ART WEEK 2022
There is a certain humility and vulnerability that results when one realizes that a friend or a colleague is willing to stand in support and solidarity with you. The weight of the moment and the level of humility deepens when it happens a second time.
The inaugural edition of Delhi Art Week (DAW) was launched in 2021 – born out a set of unique and unprecedented circumstances brought on by the COVID pandemic and along the lines of a continuum that started with smaller self-initiated collaborations between art galleries like Delhi Contemporary Art Week (DCAW), The Arts Platform India (TAPIndia) and InTouch, among others. DAW expanded this type of collaborative model to the entire city of Delhi, including both public and private establishments to the mix, similar to the efforts undertaken 10 years ago (and continuing) by galleries in Mumbai that banded together to promote the commercial art ecosystem there.
The uniqueness of DAW is not the idea that galleries and institutions could collaborate and coordinate activities on such a large scale in Delhi – it’s that they actually did so. The interest, enthusiasm and support to make DAW happen and make it a success, was evident and palpable when it was originally pitched in 2021. Not only did participants come to the week with optimism, audiences reciprocated.
But any thing can happen once. Asking for it to take place a second time is a test first and foremost to its value to those involved. And so the fact that DAW 2022 is happening is yes, recognition of the value-added it proposes, but more importantly, and with lasting effects, it's a reminder of something more crucial to the survival and success of a healthy and vibrant art scene. It says to those within the community – we are a community (!) – a supportive one at that, who can work together, while maintaining our independence and uniqueness! And it reminds patrons, art lovers and the larger public aware of the incredible diversity of visual arts practices right here in the Captial city.
Galleries and institutions are global entities today. A local, or even national scene is not sufficient to support artists or galleries, or be adequate to develop or foster a thriving arts ecosystem. Many Indian galleries and private institutions have already recognized this – The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art spearheaded efforts to bring the Indian pavilion at the Venice Biennale to life, several galleries were represented in Turin (India Hub), a group of Indian galleries just held a group show at Sadie Coles in London, and many galleries, curators and institutions regularly visit international art fairs, academic conferences and biennales. All these efforts are critically important to spread an understanding and awareness of Indian contemporary, modern and folk art – and to remind a viewer that Indian art is not just antiquities.
Acceptance of this fact – that galleries in particular – need to be local business in a global marketplace was exacerbated during the COVID pandemic when the art world took a definitive step into the virtual landscape of online viewing rooms (OVRs). For an event like Delhi Art Week, it has been critical to learn the lessons of the last few years – and so the second edition of DAW is a hybrid event – physical exhibitions in gallery spaces around Delhi and an online presence on the global arts platform, Artsy. This jump to include a worldwide audience to what is happening in Delhi over a week, is an invitation of sorts to the global community to visit Delhi galleries in their home and to lay down a stake and claim a place on the global arts weeks calendar. Hey, we’re here! It’s also an acknowledgement that the Indian art scene needs to grow substantially to support a never-ending supply of artworks.
Delhi Art Week launches on August 24, 2022, unofficially kicking off the start of the 2022-23 arts season in the City. It builds on the decades long efforts of several individuals, galleries and institutions to keep the arts scene vibrant and engaging, and the incredible support of participating institutions and galleries. To this, all one can say is ‘Thank You’ to all the participants for making this happen! Here’s to a (re)new(ed) start, to rising waters lifting all boats, and to the testament that a bundle of sticks is far stronger than any one of them alone.