The Poetics and Politics of Indian Folk and Tribal Art

Art history/ Historiography

The Poetics and Politics of Indian Folk and Tribal Art

Majumdar, Minhazz

The Poetics and Politics of Indian Folk and Tribal Art

Issue #004, Summer, 2020                                                                       ISSN: 2581- 9410

  What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet Truly what is in a name?  I would love to agree with the great bard but sometimes, it does matter. Folk and tribal art, native art, indigenous art,  vernacular art, traditional art, aboriginal art  -- all of these names comes loaded with so much baggage, so many associations that sometimes it is difficult to see the woods for the trees. In 2015, I was the India curator and coordinator for a special show of Indian art drawn from indigenous communities for  the Asia Pacific Triennial (APT) 8 at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in Brisbane, Australia. When my colleague Tarun Nagesh, Curator of Asian Art at QAGOMA and I started working on the title of our show, it was no easy task.  We finally decided on Kalpa Vriksha: Contemporary Indigenous and Vernacular Art of India after many discussions on whether ‘contemporary traditional’ is an oxymoron, the often pejorative associations of ‘folk’,  ‘vernacular’ and ‘tribal’ as terminologies and the weight of words like Aboriginal and Indigenous. For me – art is art and does not need any title. But there has ...
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