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Indian Highway - Serpentine Gallery

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE Serpentine Gallery is presenting Indian Highway, a major exhibition and events programme both at the Serpentine Gallery and off-site that spans art, architecture, film, literature, performance and dance, giving a snapshot of a vibrant generation of artists working in India today.

Conceived and organised in collaboration with Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, Indian Highway runs from December 10, 2008 to February 22, 2009.

Included are works by Ayisha Abraham, Ravi Agarwal, Nikhil Chopra, Raqs Media Collective, Sheela Gowda, Sakshi Gupta, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, N.S. Harsha, M.F. Husain, Jitish Kallat, Bharti Kher, Amar Kanwar, Bose Krishnamachari, Nalini Malani, Tejal Shah, Dayanita Singh, Kiran Subbaiah and Ashok Sukumaran and Shaina Anand – presented together for the first time in a group show.

For the first time, the Serpentine Gallery’s exterior will be surrounded by an ambitious series of large-scale paintings depicting the history of India by the legendary artist M.F. Husain.

Delhi-based multi-media artists Raqs Media Collective will curate a ‘show within a show’ inside the exhibition and have invited documentary film-makers including Debkamal Ganguly, Ruchir Joshi, Kavita Pai and Hansa Thapliyal, M.R. Rajan, Priya Sen, Surabhi Sharma and Vipin Vijay to participate.

This pioneering model of curating will be developed on the exhibition’s onward tour, starting at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo in April 2009, with a section curated by the artist Bose Krishnamachari. At each subsequent venue, a different Indian artist or group will invite their contemporaries to exhibit, bringing additional views of Indian art and allowing the exhibition to grow and develop in new and unexpected ways.

The theme of Indian Highway reflects the importance of the road in migration and movement, and the link between rural and urban communities – issues that are central to Indian life today. Works in the exhibition also make reference to technology and the ‘information superhighway’, which has formed a key part of India’s economic boom.

The exhibition features artists who have already made an impact on the international art world alongside emerging practitioners. Their work examines complex questions in an Indian society undergoing transition, addressing such political and social issues as environmentalism, religious sectarianism, globalisation, gender, sexuality and class.

A major season of public events relating to Indian culture accompanies Indian Highway. These include a season of film screenings by Indian directors at the Gate and Ritzy Cinemas in London; a literature event with the author Vikram Seth in discussion with film-maker Aradhana Seth, followed by a screening of DAM/AGE, her film featuring writer Arundhati Roy; an experimental electronic music and video performance by Shezad Dawood and Mukul Deora at London’s Nehru Centre; and a presentation by the Otolith Group.

Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, W2 3XA