Belonging to a generation of figurative artists that emerged from the Baroda School in the early 1960s, Vivan Sundaram has consistently and passionately engaged with the historical and political particularities of his own position as a subject in India and in the world at large. Ruth Rosengarten explores how, from the 1990s, Sundaram's practice has become paradigmatic of a mode of work that might be defined at one level as curatorial--where the location of production and that of public display converge. He began using photography as a more active agent in his work in the 1990s; a change that coincided with his abandonment of painting as a practice and his engagement with installation. Rosengarten highlights the fact that incorporation of photography into his installations is only one aspect of Sundaram's simultaneous recruitment of multiple sources, materials, and technologies. Moreover, the idea of photographs as archival documents sits alongside his engagement with other forms of archival material through which he (re)assembles and orders the past.It is in the context of his fascination with the found object and then the readymade--and the intersecting procedures of collage/assemblage/montage--that Sundaram has incorporated photography into his practice. Diverse activities and objects coalesce in complex works: History Project (1998); Gagawaka (2001) + Postmortem (2014), and Trash (2008), are all huge, multilayered projects, entailing the disposition of spaces, materials, and technologies in intricate arrangements, with a vast spatial and temporal spread.
About the Author
Ruth Rosengarten is an artist, art historian, writer, and photographer.