Iconic Interruptions: Selected Works by Gigi Scaria, 2007-2015

For the secular citizen-artist of our times, is the inheritance of the twentieth century a burden to be overcome, or a gift to be embraced? Iconic Interruptions explores this question with the help of some select works of Indian artist Gigi Scaria who lives and works in New Delhi. Over the past two decades, Scaria’s lens-and-screen based works have exposed with deep insight and searing irony the catastrophic outcome of runaway urbanization, environmental degradation, and human displacement, but at the heart of it all lies an abiding concern with the state of the Indian nation, forged and fostered over the course of the last seventy years and yet clearly in the artist’s vision in a state of crisis, especially with the consolidation of a majoritarian nationalism and the retreat from a vaunted pluralism. Occupying the cusp of what he has characterized as ‘the burdened past and the disconnected future,’ Scaria periodically recalls the iconic figure of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, to interrupt a triumphal neo-liberal narrative of India 2.0 that has gained traction in recent years.[1]  Yet such a reactivation is not without an aesthetic awareness of the inevitable fate that awaits such founding figures and master men, be they Gandhi or Mao, Lenin or Stalin.  Yesterday’s heroes and today’s icons are tomorrow’s relics, ‘a new layer of debris glittering on old trash.’ [2]  Curated by historian Sumathi Ramaswamy with the assistance of Katie King, Iconic Interruptions is a compelling reminder that artists like Gigi Scaria are conscience keepers of our times, as they are also creators against the grain of inherited pasts and foretold futures.

The exhibition unfolds around three interconnected themes.