Nancy Adajania: Mutation/Resistance
The Crisis of the Secular Imagination in Contemporary India
Sun, June 23, 2002 6 pm CEST, Lecture

[Lecture in english]

In her lecture, the cultural theorist and film-maker Nancy Adajania will address the confrontation around cultural images and political interests that has been taking place in India during the 1990s. This confrontation has acquired an urgency, following the recent extraordinary claims asserted by right-wing forces over control of the public sphere. Adajania will indicate how right-wing forces have mutated, re-produced and circulated powerful traditional icons through a combination of old and new media, in their effort to dominate symbolic reality and social space; and the manner in which visual artists, social activists and community workers have attempted to counter this effort at domination by forming new solidarities. 
These new solidarities are fluid and nomadic, by their very nature: they represent the concretisation of sites of resistance, and also the production of tactical modes of image-subversion. The clash of icons that is observed here marks a clash of opposed claims over the public sphere. At the centre of Adjania's inquiry is the crisis of the secular imagination, as expressed in the dilemmas and projects of many Indian artists today. These artists must counter the cynical manipulation of images that represent belief and a sense of historical injustice, with their own images, which represent hope and criticality. What »affirmative« images can hope and criticality pose against the mutated icons invested with belief and a sense of historical injustice?

Nancy Adajania is currently Chief Editor of the visual-arts journal Art India. She lives and works in Bombay. In collaboration with Angelika Fitz and Ranjit Hoskote, she organized the international symposium, »Capital and Karma: Conversations between India and Europe«, held at the Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna, April 2002).

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