New Release – Arc Silt Dive: The Works of Sheba Chhachhi

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Arc Silt Dive front cover

Edited by Kumkum Sangari

Essays by Kumkum Sangari, Gayatri Sinha, Nancy Adajania
Design: Sherna Dastur
Published by Tulika Books in association with Volte Gallery

March 2016 • 10.5 x 13 inches • 352 pages • Full colour throughout • Hardback • ISBN 978-93-82381-76-1 • Rs 4975

Arc Silt Dive is about the work of Sheba Chhachhi; it maps her methods, the modes of address and inquiry in her photographs, animated lightboxes, videos and installations. Translating the rich immersive experience of multidimensional installations into flat images, prose text and verbal description was a challenge. Yet this change of medium need not be reductive; rather, it may be seen as a bound moment in the peripatetic trajectory of installations which are frequently reworked and retested at different sites, and face new formal and contextual dilemmas in each.
The artworks reproduced in the book are not sequenced chronologically; rather, following arcs of connectivity and unexpected conjunction, they are reclustered thematically and visually, re-installed along some of their own overlaps, intersections or displacements. The installations convey a sense of recursive reflection in the circulation of images, concepts, concerns, in which little seems to be permanently abandoned and much is reworked, often in technological mediums falling into market-induced obsolescence.

Over the last three decades, Sheba Chhachhi has developed an art practice that traverses the fields of documentary photography, installation, video and new media, creating immersive environments and bringing the contemplative into the political, in both site-specific public art and independent works. She has created a number of large photo-based installations incorporating light, sound and the moving image, and pursued long-term photography projects such as on women-ascetics and the female body. Chhachhi experiments across the spectrum of durational mediums from pre-cinematic animated lightboxes to virtual reality interactivity, as well as in diverse sites: community centres, galleries, shopping malls, public institutions. These experiments are marked by a special interest in exploring relationships with viewers/participants. Since 1999, public art interventions have been a significant aspect of her work.

Kumkum Sangari worked as a UGC Professorial Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary Studies, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, and is the William F. Vilas Research Professor of English and the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She has published extensively in journals and anthologies on British, American and Indian literatures, literary and critical theory, religious conversion, South Asian medieval oral devotional traditions, nationalist figures such as M.K. Gandhi and Annie Besant, Bombay cinema and the partition of 1947, televisual memory, contemporary feminist art practice, as well as on personal law, domestic labour, the beauty industry, sex selection, dowry, domestic violence, widow immolation and communal violence She is the author of Solid:Liquid: a (trans)national reproductive formation (2015) and Politics of the Possible: Essays on gender, history, narratives, colonial English(1999); editor of Trace Retrace: Paintings, Nilima Sheikh (2012); and co-editor of Women and Culture (1985),Recasting Women: Essays in colonial history (1989), and From Myths to Markets: Essays on gender (1999).


Book Launch – 16 March 2013

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TRACE RETRACE – Paintings, Nilima Sheikh

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Nilima Sheikh

edited by Kumkum Sangari
essays by Kumkum Sangari, Ananya Jahanara Kabir, Kaushik Bhaumik
designed by Sherna Dastur


12 x 9.25
392 pages
ISBN: 987-93-82381-13-6
Rs 4000

Nilima Sheikh’s art practice from 1969 to 2012 forms the subject of Trace Retrace. The book is structured in three parts: visual, discursive, and a combination of the two.

The largest narrative is visual – a selection from Nilima Sheikh’s paintings in diverse formats, chosen to signal the artist’s commitment to process, and to indicate the way her paintings slide into, work with and against each other, and propose a meandering seriality. The often extensive reproduction of details from these paintings introduces the unexpected, eliciting not only a flitting or looping gaze but also surprise.

The complexity of Nilima Sheikh’s art practice lends itself to other forms of engagement, as is evident in the second part of the book comprising three diverse readings: ‘Ruptures, Junctures, Returns: (un)lived histories, feminist propositions and Nilima Sheikh’ by Kumkum Sangari; ‘A Counter-Archive of Pain and Loss: Nilima Sheikh’s evolving Kashmir series’ by Ananya Jahanara Kabir; and ‘Passages in Reverie: Nilima Sheikh, modernity and the history of Kashmir’ by Kaushik Bhaumik.

The last section of the book indexes the range and diversity of Nilima Sheikh’s exhibited works, interleaved with the artist’s own voice in different tenors: autobiographical snippets, acknowledgements of her training and teachers, glimpses of her work methods and process, and meditations on her collaborative practice. These are dotted with quotations from texts that are significant to her: folk-songs, poems, stories. In this section, a cross-disciplinary intertextuality is repositioned as a coeval medium at once outside and inside Nilima Sheikh’s painted images, which not only adds a layer that extends beyond the art-historical frame but redeems the solitude of written words.

Kumkum Sangari, editor of the book, is William F. Vilas Research Professor of English and the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has published extensively on British, American and Indian literature, critical theory, religious conversion, medieval oral   devotional traditions, nationalist figures such as Gandhi and Annie Besant, Bombay cinema, televisual memory, and contemporary gender issues such as personal law, domestic labour, the beauty industry, sex selection, widow immolation and communal violence.

Articulating Resistance – Art and Activism

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edited by Deeptha Achar & Shivaji K. Panikkar

October 2012

9 x 7 inches
352 pages
ISBN: 978-93-82381-01-3
Rs 995

The disciplinary understandings of contemporary Indian art are being challenged in our time by experiences, narratives and strategies designated as activism. Articulating Resistance: Art and Activism explores this space between art and activism without letting the discourse being reduced either to a simple formulation about art in activism or activism in art. The focus, instead, is on interrogating the politics of aesthetics as well as the connections between the visual and other disciplines. Deriving its insights from methodological moves made in the fields of art history/criticism, culture studies and visual culture, the book foregrounds the links between the practice of art and the urgencies of the public world trying to bridge, in the process, the space that reaches across the academy and all that is known as activism in our time. The different sections in the book explore the complex relationship between art-producing practices and frameworks of viewing that seek alignment with the various struggles around caste, community, gender and sexuality.

Deeptha Achar, Y.S. Alone, Akhilesh Arya, Benoy P.J., Rustom Bharucha, G.P. Deshpande, Koonal Duggal, Kancha Ilaiah, Nalini Kannegal, Geeta Kapur, Nivedita Kuttiah, Georgina Maddox, Parul Dave Mukherji, Vasvi Oza, Shivaji K. Panikkar, Sahmat Collective, Santhosh S., Sneha Raghavan, R. Srivatsan, Gary Tartakov, Jothi F. Xavier.

Deeptha Achar teaches at the Department of English, M.S. University of Baroda, Vadodara. Her publications includeThe Age of Adventure: Childhood, Reading and British Boys’ Fiction (2010). She has co-edited Towards New Art History: Studies in Indian Art (2003) and Discourse, Democracy and Difference: Perspectives on Community, Politics and Culture (2010). Her areas of research interest include visual culture and childhood studies.

Shivaji K. Panikkar teaches at the School of Culture and Creative Expressions, Ambedkar University Delhi, Delhi. His publications include Saptamatrka Worship and Sculpture: An Iconological Interpretation of Conflicts and Resolution in the ‘Storied’ Brahmanical Icons (1997). He has edited Twentieth Century Indian Sculpture: Last Two Decades (2000) and co-edited Towards A New Art History: Studies in Indian Art (2003), among other books. He has written texts for several exhibition catalogues and has organized important conferences around the theme of New Art History. His research interests are in the areas of pre-modern and modern Indian art.


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A Majlis project

Concept and Text: Madhusree Dutta

Design and Graphics: Shilpa Gupta & Madhusree Dutta

July 2012

9 x 6.5 inches
ISBN: 978-81-89487-99-7
Rs 995

dates.sites presents a timeline of the city of Bombay/Mumbai in the 20th century, anchored to its most adoredpublic institution: cinema.

Why this timeline when it is now generally accepted that dates are rigid and memories porous – and that the latter needs to be prioritized over the former? How does one create a timeline that is neither cast in stone nor vulnerable to the charge of ‘manufacturing a past’? How does one evolve a timeline for a geographically defined entity in the context of its popular cultures that are defined by specific processes of production and distribution? These were some of the challenges that confronted the making of this volume. The volume is divided into sections by decades, and the decades in turn are separated by a series of calendars designed by artists, filmmakers and designers. The text is a stitching together of found information and received knowledge from formal/informal, acknowledged/discarded sources. It is layered with images from either the public domain or personal archives. The relationship between text and image, far from being umbilical, is playfully associative. Just as contemporary readings are incorporated with dated markers in the written text, in the image text too, contemporary works are inserted alongside period images –and these incorporations and insertions appear with detectable joint-marks, in order to snap the spell of ‘snippets from the past’. dates.sites thus becomes a deliberation on the contemporary with the aid of a speculated upon and collated past.

Madhusree Dutta, the curator of Project Cinema City, is a filmmaker and executive director of Majlis. She curated the cultural component at World Social Forum, 2004 and 2007, and has conceived and realized various courses on cultural literacy and art interfaces for both academic institutions and social movements. Her publications include The Nation, the State and Indian Identity (co-editor, 1996), and Sites and Practices: An Exercise in Cultural Pedagogy (editor, 2006).

Shilpa Gupta is a visual artist and lives in Mumbai. Her works are shown widely in leading international galleries and museums, and at art events. Shilpa creates artwork using interactive video, websites, objects, photographs, sound and public performances. She has also been engaged with various initiatives of art activism including Culture@World Social Forum and Aar Paar, a project of cultural exchange between artists of Pakistan and India.

Majlis( is a centre for rights discourse and multi-disciplinary arts initiative based in Mumbai. It has two wings: a resource centre for legal rights and a production unit for arts. Since its inception in 1990, Majlis has spearheaded many campaigns against cultural terrorism and sectarian art practices. Majlis’ productions of films, plays and collaborative artworks are well acclaimed, and have received many national and international awards.