Indianama is the brainchild of Kunel Gaur and Sharon Borgoyary. In 2016 they released the first edition – a collection of travel posters featuring 69 artists with a vision for India. Last year they curated a second collection, now stocked with us at Kulture Shop. The originals have travelled from New Delhi to London Design Festival to New York and back. We catch up with Kunel and Sharon on the new collection, how they put it together, and their future plans.
KS: Your studio, Animal is an established design studio in India, extremely prolific and successful. How do you balance day to day client work with self initiated projects like this?
Studio Animal: Self-initiated projects have been a big part of Animal’s directive and how we function, ever since the beginning. We manage to make time for these projects on evenings, weekends – whenever we’re not working for our brands. They’re then executed with the help of delegation that’s mindful to our team’s capacity, plus numerous hours of discussions and work.
KS: 69 motion posters from 69 different artists is a massive undertaking. Tell us a little bit about your conception of Indianama, and the process of co-ordinating all the contributors, their ideas and the overall project.
Studio Animal: Indianama started as just another odd discussion over coffee. As we brainstormed over what we could do to celebrate 69 years of Independence, we found ourselves keen on maps, and how we could play around with them. We then decided to make it a collaborative project. While the coordination process felt simple on the surface – we invited artists, they chose their themes and produced artwork that based on events that held importance in the 69 year old journey – it’s the handling that needed attention and care. The one thing we fussed about, as always, was the quality of artworks, which we managed to achieve by attentive curation of artists.
KS: You’ve said before “India in tourism has been unapologetically restricted to the same monotonous and cliched imagery.” How did you guys go about making sure the collection didn’t fall into the same trap of Incredible India-imagery?
Studio Animal: As we mentioned, we laid stress on the quality and uniqueness of the artwork, which were ensured by continuous discussions between with the artists. We made sure that through our communication, it is clear that the art we’re looking for should be distinct in its aesthetics and the sentiments it’s portraying.
KS: Which ones are your favourites from the collection?
We fancy a lot of them for different reasons, though the ones that stand out the most are:
Year 1966 by Furqan Jawed, Year 1977 by Shreya Gulati and Year 1990 by Girik Jain
These three were favourites because of the issues they, however subtly, try to raise. It’s not easy to register the fact that these issues, which have been talked about since the 60s, have not met their ideal end. As far as we’ve come, we’re still fighting some of these plagues. We hope that with continuous, brave portrayal in the form of artworks that spark conversations, we’ll reach a positive consensus sometime soon.
Apart from these, we loved Year 1964 by Nasheet Shadani, for the beautiful portrayal of Guru Dutt, Year 1982 by Shweta Malhotra for clever use of the shape of the map of India, and Year 1996 for it’s popular culture references.
We loved –Parody of Poetry by Soniay Bhase, as the opinion it stood by is sadly, applicable to many Indian artforms, and is something we’d like to challenge and change.
Snowy Heights by Upamanyu Bhattacharya, To a Different Beat by Tushar Ghei and Ninaad Kulkarni, and Together as One by Prince Lunawara for their beautiful visual imagery.
Kingdom of Ages by Anindita Das for the unique nature of visual treatment.
Land of a 1000 Toothy Smiles by Vibhav Singh for the interesting addition of characters to the composition.
Two Indias by Sugandha Kharya and Anupam Singh for its satirical humour.
KS: Congratulations! The entire collection was just part of an exhibit at the London Design Festival! Curator Arpna Gupta had this to say about the reaction to Indianama: “We had a lot of visitors from the Indian diaspora who were obviously very interested in discovering this semi-alternative timeline of India’s independence years.” In contrast to that, how do you see Indians that have grown up and lived here react to the collection?
Studio Animal: For people who’ve grown up here, lived here all their lives, Indianama came across as refreshing, a novel take on the imagery of India they’re used to. Another interesting facet was the kind of conversations it started, as some of these people have lived through these events and had firsthand accounts to share. For them, artistic representation of these events held more value than solely visual.
KS: Many people have projected what their vision of India in the future looks like. We could possibly be a global superpower. For you what does the Indianama of the future look like? What would the same collection ten years from now feature?
Studio Animal: That is what’s interesting about Indianama – we regulate the process, not the outcome, that’s what makes it surprising. Since it’s based on continuous rethinking of what India is and what it means to its people, the outcome can only be determined by what our future holds. The one thing we’re sure of is that we’ll see great development in the techniques people use to create the art, and probably the medium. Hopefully, it’ll grow from being just an exhibition to a movement, or something even grander.
KS: What next? What are your future plans for the collection from here, and where can people view it or purchase it?
Studio Animal: We’ve already started working on Indianama 2018, and are super stoked about it. We’re carrying forward the spirit of 2016 and 2017 editions, but in a very different way. For those who’re interested, the prints from 2017 edition would be available online on Kulture Shop.
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