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Posted on Nov 30, 11:40AM | IANS
Site-specific art, which can hardly hope to find buyers among private collectors, is largely dependent for survival on its ability to be socially engaging. It helps, of course, if it could also get funds from corporate houses or governments.
Site-specific art had a spell of popularity in India in the mid-1990s, in large open venues like public spaces, or outside museums.
Since then, it has been shrinking to indoor displays, in gallery spaces.
Artists who take up such site-specific projects are constrained by a lack of funding; there is also the problem of poor audience response, as the general public is hardpressed to see the relevance -- and even the possibility -- of art in their ordinary surroundings.
There are, however, a few new public and corporate endowments that promote Indian artists, allowing them to explore frontiers in uncharted venues. Companies like Skoda, Jindal and the Ambani Group have taken a silent lead in pushing art in spaces that people are unaccustomed to seeing as sites for art.
Karnataka-based Srinivasa Prasad, who received an endowment from car-maker Skoda, says: "Endowment grants help those who create site-specific works pay for outdoor infrastructure".
"One day, I was walking by a cremation ground and I found bodies being burnt with cardboard boxes instead of pyre wood. I was shocked and wanted to pay a tribute to the those who die without proper cremation rites," Prasad said.
He had to pay the crematorium management to put up an interactive graffiti and performance art project on the "last rites for the dead" .
Prasad said: "One of the reasons I was not able to work on big outdoor art projects was funding. It was taking me years to put together material and logistics for site-specific art."
Artist Shilpa Gupta says: "Any patronage to support experimental art is a good thing."
"It allows more scholarship, greater research and more creativity, and gives local artists a chance to ideate," Gupta says.
Endowments, however, often come with strings attached.