IFA@Guwahati: An Exhibition of Three Projects | Opening: April 21, 2018 | Assam State Museum

India Foundation for the Arts
in collaboration with the
Assam State Museum, Guwahati

An Exhibition of Three Projects
Brahmanising The Brahmaputra: The Divine Feminine in Pre-Ahom Assam by Shubhasree Purkayastha
Interpreting Space: Naga Realm by Sayantan Maitra Boka
Museums are Closed at Night by Desire Machine Collective

Opening: 10:00 AM | Saturday, April 21, 2018 | Assam State Museum
On view from April 21, 2018, 10:00 AM to 05:00 PM

Assam State Museum
Gopinath Bordoloi Road, Mawhati, Ambari, Guwahati, Assam - 781 001

Join us for an exhibition of three projects by Shubhasree PurkayasthaSayantan Maitra Boka, and Desire Machine Collective. This exhibition brings together the culmination of three, 12-month collaborations with the Assam State Museum, Guwahati, under the Archival and Museum Fellowships initiative at IFA which supports practitioners to engage with archives and museum collections and re-present them through contemporary frameworks.

Shubhasree Purkayastha's project Brahmanising The Brahmaputra: The Divine Feminine in Pre-Ahom Assam is an exhibition that investigates the processes of religious acculturation, iconographic assimilation, and the creation of shared histories in ancient Kamarupa. Since the sixth century, Brahmanism had begun arriving in Assam when Hindu rulers and their Brahmin priests migrated from North India and brought with them, Sanskrit, the Vedic Yagya, and an established pantheon of gods and goddesses with their varied names and countless iconographies. Shubhasree's project attempts to answer the question of what happened when the Brahmanical narrative of North India encountered the already established 'tribal' narrative of ancient Assam.

Shubhasree Purkayastha trained as an art historian and museum professional at the National Museum Institute, New Delhi. Her interests lie in cultural history and the anthropology of the visual. She has worked with the Outreach Department at the National Museum, New Delhi and the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, before joining Sarmaya Arts Foundation in Mumbai as a Curatorial and Research Associate.

Sayantan Maitra Boka's project Interpreting Space: Naga Realm seeks to explore ways of designing an exhibition of ethnographic material in terms of space, representation, and materiality. This project includes ethnographic objects from the Naga collection in the museum along with sketches, and photographs from books, notes, and documents on Naga culture.

Sayantan Maitra Boka who trained as an architect, is a practicing artist. As a scenographer, he has produced and designed several museum shows. He is Chief Coordinator, Shelter Promotion Council, an NGO, through which he has curated and produced public art festivals in Sikkim, Nagaland, Meghalaya, and West Bengal, addressing issues of sociopolitical and environmental nature.

Desire Machine Collective's project Museums are Closed at Night is a research presentation that will bring into public discourse, certain objects and artefacts from the museum's collection, and infuse them with a 'second life' by inviting artists, historians and public intellectuals to engage with them in multiple ways. The presentation comprises an exhibition of objects, documents from the collection, public talks, and a publication. Their idea is to 're-organise' parts of the museum's collection, commenting in parallel on the institution's history and function.

Desire Machine Collective, comprising Sonal Jain and Mriganka Madhukaillya, have since 2004 collaborated to employ film, video, photography, space, and multimedia installation in their practice. Their artworks have been showcased at the inaugural Indian Pavilion at the 54th International Art exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Italy, among others. Over the years, they have created alternate spaces for art practices, such as 'Periferry', an interdisciplinary laboratory on the river Brahmaputra in Guwahati.

These projects have been made possible with Archival and Museum Fellowships from the India Foundation for the Arts, in collaboration with the Assam State Museum, made possible with support from the Tata Trusts.