Introduction – Charlie Levine

Inspired by the encounters on a recent Artist’s International Development Fund trip to Mumbai and by the conversations had everyday with my host, artist Vishwa Shroff and collaborator artist Tash Kahn while there, a new process of thought developed for me. The three of us spoke in depth about process versus inspiration and what impact each has upon a creative process. We discussed how site specificity reflected in Tash and Vishwa’s practice, sometimes to make a piece of work to be very specific and in other cases to let places merge with others and the imagination, which made me question how I do this as a curator. We talked about this grant and it’s long-term aim to encourage continued cross over working and opportunities. We discovered a love of ‘play’ and how encouraging a sense of trial and error can help develop your approach to projects.

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I thought about the people we had met on my trip and the conversations we had had with TARQ Gallery Director Hena Kapadia and her thoughts on community building, and how artist Pratap Morey was inspired to create brand new work as a result of being included in a new project, Cornered Stories, devised by Vishwa and I. We considered Taja Gavanka’s linear practice and how she looked at site in such a unique way, much like artist Subrat Kumar’s unique take on mythology and storytelling. We got inspired by the heritage of Bombay / Mumbai through Nisha Sikander’s work and of language through Kruti Saraiya’s designs. All of these thoughts came together one evening into a new programme of work, entitled Square Works Lab (SqW:Lab) – a place where 10 creatives from all of the world can come together, play, work site responsively, showcase their process in the form of drawings, doodles and notes, and be inspired by each other.

SqW:Lab is to be “an “active space,” a hybrid structure that [is] part art school, part community centre and part artistic laboratory.”[1]

Inspired in part by Hans Ulrich Obrist’s do it, a series / archive of instructions for artists to ‘do’ with a set of ‘rules’ that travelled the world, ever expanding as new contributors got involved, “do it tried to develop exhibitions that built a relation to their place, that constantly changed with different local conditions, and created a dynamic, complex system with feedback loops. It changed places and places changed it.”[2] The SqW:Lab Play Projects will want to work in a similar way, each instruction or game changing depending on the players and the space it is being performed.

This ‘play’ period will be bookended with exhibitions, the first looking at the drawings of processes and what links everyone together, the final show being an exhibition of the products of the Play Projects.

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This is my participation in the SqW:Lab project, which will be multi faceted and layered with thanks to the other four core partners, my host, artist Vishwa Shroff, her husband and collaborator, architect Katsushi Goto, artists and DOLPH Gallery Director Tash Kahn, and art writer Rosanna Van Mierlo, who has hosted Vishwa, Tash and myself at Swiss Cottage Gallery, London, in different projects. Each of the five key partners will invite a single other creative talent to join in the conversations, exhibitions and Play Projects.

This is thought to be a three month project with exhibitions taking place at SqW:Lab gallery, in Vishwa and Goto’s home in Mumbai and to take place over India’s winter period, November 2018 – February 2019. If this project is successful then the plan is to roll this out, with 10 new participants each year.

[1] Theatre of Exhibitions, Jens Hoffman, 2015, p. 79

[2] Ways of Curating, Hans Ulrich Obrist, 2014, p. 20

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