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Artists in Residence

 The Krone residency studio is situated in Aarau old town. Since 1995 it has taken artists in the first half of the year from Palestine and India alternately. Its six month duration places it amongst the longest residencies in Switzerland. In the second half of the year, three months are given to artists from Burkina Faso while the remaining three months of the year remain flexible. Artists are recommended for residencies by local partner organisations. Dipyaman Kar had the good fortune of being the first artist to be chosen in partnership with the Khoj artists' association in Calcutta.

Dipyaman Kar - In Dialogue with the City

Dipyaman Kar · In the Krone residency studio, Aarau, 2013. Photo: Cat Tuong Nguyen

The Indian artist Dipyaman Kar (born 1976) has known Europe since his time at art school in London, however this is his first time in Switzerland. He prefers to explore new places on foot. He describes his tours of discovery in the form of a dialogue. With each tour he becomes more familiar with what at first was strange to him. Initially in Aarau, the street layout, which refers back to the original city wall, attracted his attention. The linear pattern of the cobble stones fascinated him and the colourful ornamental and decorative elements of the old town houses reminded him of Nepal - a surprising association given the architectural differences between the Swiss plateau and the south Asian country. Visiting Swiss cities (in the meantime he has also explored Bern and Zürich) seems to Kar like travelling in a time capsule. The centuries old history feels much more present to him here than in his own homeland. He associates the old residential areas inside the city walls with ‘gated communities', by which he suggests that people were closely packed together, also an interesting perspective given the densely populated major Indian cities.

Simultaneously Kar applies himself to town planning, congestion and the scarcity of land reserves, highly topical themes, also applicable to India with its rapidly growing population. Already in earlier work he has picked up on the transformation of old industrial areas in large Indian cities, their demolition resulting in first a no mans' land followed by a transformation into exclusive residential areas. In the process history is erased, a place previously full of stories becomes anonymous. Kar concerns himself with the city as a living domain and he is interested in how the urban structures affect people physically, psychologically and in social relationships. For example, the shifting of living quarters away from the horizontal (traditional family houses) to the vertical (tower blocks). In contention with Le Corbusier's vision of the city he has recently developed ‘Helium City', floating between earth and sky, borne aloft by a balloon, a self-sufficient city. As a democratic, non-hierarchical city this is also from a social perspective a Utopian project, just as Chandigarh was. But there, a new elite replaced the colonial one, as the artist remarks critically. Kar will show ‘Helium City' as a simple model with balloons, floating through the air somewhere in Aarau old town. He likes to show his work in public spaces, to take possession of them without occupying them. Through this act of acquisition and integration, he participates in city life, denoting his presence. The same can be said for the project with which he applied to the residency. He looks for disused and discarded things in order to create little pieces of art. On the window sill there is a selection of such things: an iPhone which looks badly damaged, pieces of bone, a hair pin, crushed beer cans. This work also has meaning as an exploration of his new environment. It says that what a society throws away shows us as much about it as the things it keeps. Kar will offer these objects for sale at a minimal price on a mobile market stall in Aarau in June. In order to show the price range he has in mind, he rummages for small change in his wallet. This ‘Kiosk' is inspired by the simple yet functional stands which populate Indian cities. It is a democratic concept, thanks to the low price it's art that should be affordable to everyone. Through this, Kar is returning what he has received, and broaches the subjects of exchange and trade, democracy and market economy, the art market and the accessibility of art in general, in a playful and effortless way. Lots of young Indian artists foster such a participatory practice through everyday, widely understood actions, and through this they are reaching people who otherwise are not particularly interested in art.
Kar is also using his residency to visit places which he knows through literature, for example the Cabaret Voltaire. He perceives the Swiss art scene as being ‘very vibrant'. In order to make contacts and to not only find but to receive disused and discarded objects for his project, Kar showed his work at the very beginning of his residency at GARAGE, a bar and concert venue in Aarau. This snowballed, creating for him further contacts. Dipyaman also appreciates having time to himself away from his home in Calcutta. The distance from daily ties and commitments frees his mind. Thanks to his relative isolation he can better concentrate again, and curiosity and a lust for discovery are having a stimulating effect. The stay at the residency studio has already in the first month given Kar new impulses, and he hopes that he can take the calm and inspiration back home with him.

Bis: 14.06.2013

This interview is published with the support of the Swiss cultural foundation Pro Helvetia Moving Words for the Swiss advancement of translation.

Translation: Paul Harper

Deutsche Version


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Ausgabe 4  2013
Ausstellungen Dipyaman Kar [14.06.13-23.06.13]
Institutionen Forum Schlossplatz [Aarau/Schweiz]
Autor/in Eveline Suter
Künstler/in Dipyaman Kar
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