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WHEN: Friday, february 8, 2019 | 6:00PM - 8:00PM
Where: SOTHEBY’S INSTITUTE OF ART, 30 Bedford Square, Room 31E, London WC1B 3EE

Sotheby’s Institute of Art warmly invites you to the lecture ‘A Place for People?: Secular Nationalism in Modern & Contemporary Indian art,’ by Dr Zehra Jumabhoy, part of the MACA Contemporaries research seminar series.

Art Historian Geeta Kapur argues that the “tradition of the modern” in Indian art “inscribes within its very narrative the aspirations of the secular nation”, providing a cogent counter to sectarian strife. Such aspirations seem untenably utopian in contemporary India, thanks to the rise of the Hindu Right (a.k.a. Hindutva). Paradoxically, both the liberal Left and the fundamentalist Right claim to be the real “secularists”. This lecture will decode Kapur’s concept of “secularism”, analyzing the way it dismantles an older model of Nehruvian secularism. It will concentrate on artists embodying Kapur’s secular ideal such as Nalina Malani, Sheela Gowda, Pushpamala N., and Atul Dodiya. Finally, it will address the question: how feasible is the notion of the secular national art as a balm for the communal fissures dividing modern India?

The lecture is led by Dr. Zehra Jumabhoy, a UK-based critic and art historian specializing in modern and contemporary South Asian art. She is an Associate Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and co-organizes Contemporaneity in South Asian Art, a public seminar series at the Courtauld’s Research Forum, and has regularly lectured on the MA Modern and Contemporary Asian Art program at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London. Jumabhoy was the guest curator of The Progressive Revolution: Modern Art for a New India, which was at the Asia Society, New York (14 September 2018-20 January 2019). Her book, The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today, was published by Random House, London, in 2010.

The event is free and open to all.

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