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Scripts as Afaka

paris From 19 October to 11 November 2017

galerie Anders hus

galerie Anders hus

paris - France

Presentation
Scripts as Afaka
Artists: Yogesh Barve, Toothy Korwa, Sanna Korwa, Lava Korwa, Ekva Korwa, Jaruri Korwa, Sukho Korwa, Fugi Korwa, Jururi Korwa, Somari Korwa, Shibi Korwa, Jagu Korwa, Naresh Kumar, Saviya Lopes, Amol K Patil, Mai-Thu Perret, Teresa Pinto-Lopes, Krishna Reddy, Haddari Sadik.

Curated by Sumesh Sharma, Clark House Initiative and Associate Curator Joud Halwani Al Tamimi.

Sumesh Sharma has co-founded the Clark House Initiative, Bombay in 2010, where he presently is the curator. He has curated exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Metropolitan Museum, New York, Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, Para Site Hong Kong, Villa Vassilieff, Paris, Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam, ISCP New York, Insert 2014, New Delhi among others. He will curate an exhibition at the Showroom, London in 2018 and the Centre George Pompidou in 2017 under the direction of Catherine David.

In Malagasy the term Afaka means free. The Korwa are a people who inhabit the Gondwana plate that came about when India separated from the Gondwanaland supercontinent abutting itself into Asia.

The Afaka script of Suriname is a complex set of characters that are based on an English based creole using the logic and semantics of languages spoken in West Africa, especially Ghana. The Afaka is spoken by the Ndunya people, one of the Maroon tribes who escaped slavery at the hands of the Dutch into the forests of the Amazon and grouped together into affiliations that came over Atlantic on the slave ships. Named after its inventor Afaka Atumisi who was illiterate he claimed to have been taught one or two syllables each night by a friendly ghost who would visit him which culminated in the formation a 56 syllabic signs based script in 1901 the day the Hailey's comet crossed the earth. The script was taught to various Maroon men and each of them was given the honorific title of the 'bukuman'.

The Korwas are an Australoid group of indigenous Indians endangered by the creeping coal, bauxite and iron mines that contest space in the forests of Central and Eastern India. These people become unwelcomed on land that they have forested and preserved over generations. The word 'Adivasi' or ' settled in an era before time' is as patronizing as the colonial term Tribe. Both terms propose a civilizational retard. Cheikh Anta Diop the Senegalese philosopher, anthropologist and physicist proposed a re-reading of the history of civilizations based on an enquiry into the physical history of objects that determine visual culture.

Anders Laustsen and Anne Chevalier have been visiting India, specifically Bhopal for the last two decades or more. Bhopal houses the Bharat Bhavan Museum, an eccentric attempt by an abstractionist J. Swaminathan at creating a museum for a visual vocabulary that was certainly in India, one which opened in 1982. At the Roopankar Museum contemporary art and what today we know as vernacular and tribal art are exhibited together. The issue is vernacularity and tribalism which is defined by both a colonial and annihilating outsiders who encroaches onto the resources and the cultural quotidian of the numerically lesser or politically inferior subject. Their history and culture is not privileged the right to exist in the current era and subjugated to a past that may be non-existent.

J. Swaminathan would roam the forests with a huge working capital to acquire works which included bronzes, paintings and terracottas, mining vast stretches of human life for the museum. But sometimes wall paintings cannot be transported out of habitats and settlements which are ephemeral and made of mud.

Therefore rolls of archival and handmade paper were to be found in his jeep to commission artists from various communities of the Bastar and Gondwana regions. When he met with the Hill Korwas in the northern part of the state of Chhattisgarh, they began drawing what was termed a magical script on the white sheets because even though they painted their walls and used tattooing. Many letters like flowing lines that curve, cross and entangle make a script that is not repeated in any subsequent drawing. The subtlety the of the purple, green, blue and yellow pencil colors find resonances in Cy Twombly and presently claimed post-conceptual art.

But the lines are lost and mystified with the patronizing praise of them being magical as the Korwas speak a dialect that does not have a script and thus their ability to not reveal through their script makes it magical. Now at the Drawing Center Museum in New York and other gallery spaces the script has been always presented as wonder and a mythical happening.

Their annihilation by mining lobbies, politicians and a civilizational measure to bring people under the same umbrella of utopic shared values and materialism further proposes the cause of tribal vernacular conception. But Clark House proposes a conceptual departure by imagining that the Korwas who began to draw on the white sheets did so as an act of conceptual rendering. They might have made a mockery of the jottings of Swaminathan in his notebook. They might have had the ability to be free of form due to their apparent illiteracy in settled languages. Illiteracy is considered a prime example of savage childlike behavior that makes one incapable of modern life.

Tsunamis, health hazards, dietary rules and sexuality today inform of us of the lacking of this modern-idiom claiming society and its failures that are both physical and emotional. The violence we inhabit today is a breakdown of this emotional constant, therefore the illiteracy that held wisdom in its surrounding, how do we translate as theorists in art, and chroniclers of its history in which part of the linear timeline. What is the plot of an exhibition that contains these drawings?

Anders Laustsen (Danish) and Anne Chevalier (French) travel each year in India and meet with the assistant director of the Bharat Bhavan complex Akhilesh Verma, who would introduce them to artists whose works they would buy and exhibit them in their gallery at Rue Charlot, Le Marais. The poet Franck André Jamme made a travel in 1996 to the north-eastern hills of Madhya Pradesh, now the state of Chhattisgarh, to meet with the Korwa, described in his book “Korwa”. This movement across India was not touristic but a commitment that sought an alternative political and spiritual reality.

Years ago just after the World War II a Danish Dadaist artist began making furniture and movies, his name was Poul Cadovius, simple lines of anarchism became the design for the Danish Royal System a storage management system for books and objects in small concrete apartments. It is poetic and appropriate to choreograph this conversation in the Gallery Anders Hus which is a few steps away from the Centre Pompidou, into an exhibition that arises from the philosophical and political critic of the monumental exhibition in 1989 “Les Magiciens de la Terre” by its participating artist Rasheed Araeen in the publication Third Text.

If the language of defining art cannot be allowed in terms that do not hold the perspectives of the 'third world', their visibility in history will be gaze of someone else. Afaka, seeks freedom, even though its etymology that suggests the word 'Free' is not in Saramaccan or Surinamer Creole but in another language- Malagasy.

- Sumesh Sharma, Paris 2017
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Address

    Details

  • 27 rue Charlot
    75003, Paris
    France
    0663762116

    Schedules

    Monday

    closed - 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM

    Tuesday

    closed - 1:00 PM to 1:00 PM

    Wednesday

    closed - 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM

    Thursday

    closed - 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM

    Friday

    closed - 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM

    Saturday

    closed - 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM

    Sunday

    closed - 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Share this exhibition

Fugi Korwa, Magical Script, Painting

Fugi Korwa

Magical Script, 1995
22.8 x 17.7 inch
Painting

$2,088

Jaruri Korwa, Magical Script, Painting

Jaruri Korwa

Magical Script, 1995
21.7 x 29.5 inch
Painting

$2,983

Lava Korwa, Magical Script, Painting

Lava Korwa

Magical Script, 1995
21.7 x 29.5 inch
Painting

$3,580

Somari Korwa, Magical Script, Painting

Somari Korwa

Magical Script, 1995
16.5 x 21.7 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$2,088

Shibi Korwa, Magical Script, Painting

Shibi Korwa

Magical Script, 1995
22.8 x 17.7 inch
Painting

$2,088

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