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Public Sphere

Anita Agarwal

I am a multidisciplinary artist from India, now based in London. I have studied at Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi, The Arts Student League Of New York, The Chelsea College of Arts and Design, UAL and most recently at the Royal College of Art. My practice is dialogical, socially engaged and activistic in its approach. I am a feminist who through my art practice interrogates and pushes the socio-political parameters experienced in day-to-day life.


I like to initiate and collaborate to create spaces to reflect, imagine and strive for possible new (ideal) worlds. There is a continual search to find, create new language(mediums), as well as create spaces where the responses to these reflections and imaginations are possible. Spaces, where one comes individually or collectively together in the form of workshops, exhibitions, or public interventions.




Working across moving image, performance, installation, mark-making, and print; Archives, and social histories inform a provocative approach to storytelling within my practice.


I call myself a "Respons(able)" artist; someone once told me that being responsible means being able to respond. As a visual artist, I respond to an event, a site, or a provocation through my work. My response, although intuitive is built on a strong foundation of comprehensive research, to sieve out  ‘any emotional hyperbole, false consciousness, madness or the perfunctory navel-gazing of the self-absorbed’. It also means that i respond to the urgency for


An ongoing inquiry and re-evaluation of where and how art can be seen and experienced resulted in collaborative curatorial endeavours such as SW11NDOWS and Hanover Space Project.


I strive to achieve playfulness and humour in my works, as I believe through humour it is possible to collide into other spaces, allowing people to relax and ease out into areas that would be otherwise difficult and awkward to navigate.

Sustainability and sustainable lifestyles are subjects that I am passionately engaging in throughout my practice. Sustainability for me is a way of living, a way of being, both as an individual and an artist. As an artist my way of working and the choice of materials is very much informed by it.





FAIR ENOUGH? — Performance For The Camera 2021 Duration- 3.25min

My work explores the intersections and positions within cultures, that are often mirrored in texts/everyday phrases; reasons of their existence and origins fascinate me.

It engages with the themes related to the politics of the body (Race, Gender and Patriarchy), and pedagogy in a country(colony) like India in a post-colonial era. As can be found in this work, it address the fact that although long freed, the almost nuclear residual effects (for e.g loss of identity) brought about by these hegemonies are still active and detrimental.


Medium:

moving image
THIS TOO SHALL PASS, THEN WHAT? — Medium- Paper 2021 Durational Installation Could people passing by have noticed the weekly change? Would it have made them look forward to the next one? If a chance encounter with art, outside on a normal day would be inspiring? The purpose, other than to subvert the power dynamics of spaces that show work of art, working on the boundaries of public and private- is also an enquiry into what a DIY banner on the Council building represents, and whom

Just as Audre Lorde, writes that ‘emotions’ are ones political and life resources, and that we must make use of our anger/our frustrations, letting the anger spill out into a poem or a text.

For me this is how I get a release; whether penning a poem or just writing random thoughts. In this work, I just magnified a few by putting them up as messages, almost like an open-air tweet from my 20th floor council flat in London.

What started with a shy, single phrase attempt ‘Mind The Gap’, using the three glass panels on my balcony, in 2020 last year. Developed this year into a full text message that was displayed and changed at regular weekly intervals.

To make art is to express, and to exhibit is to interact, which are both equally vital to an artist’s practice. There came upon me an urgent need to hack into this dystopian present.

To subvert this powerlessness through a constructive action by creating new ways of showing and seeing art.

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RIVERS(she/he/her/him/it) — Moving Image Duration 6min Will debut on July 21, 2021 in the opening of the RCA 2021 Contemporary Art Practice Degree Show at Cromwell Place

Archives and social histories inform a provocative approach to storytelling in my works.Two rivers that have been a source of succour for me–Thames in my present, a much-needed anchor in these turbulent and uncertain times and River Ganga (Ganges) from my past. 

The sounds and images Juxta-positioned over one another.

Its soft sound of the lapping waves, water gurgling fast or at times gently on it journey...an infinite and insatiable hunger to meet the sea.

Water surges in exactly the same manner as it did back home

The sunlight dances on its ripples like tiny river nymphs as they did back home

The water here has the same promise to wet and drench me if I dipped in it  as it would back home.

its nature of movement, of finality of the passing time, of certainty, its magnitude of infiniteness, of it being the giver of life and death both has inspired many, the poets the artists in the same manner as it has back home.


Just like back home, but here, where it flows it surges it nourishes,

back home she meanders and fulfils all just the same as it does thousands of miles away...they both do the same thing, connect people, touch lives, never still, never ending, a constant, just like the sun, the stars...one becomes a father, a God, Father Thames…a mother a goddess they call her Gangaji with respect and love.


I sit beside it and it calls on me in the same manner, when I am next to it fills me with melancholy makes me ruminate on the nature of existence it... my eyes gravitate to it every morning just in the same way... I wish to dip my hands, but don’t I hesitate... it never occurs to me to dip my body in it ... as I would back home. it must be the cold weather I suppose 


The magnitude of the endless life cycle of a river its timelessness - the river to the sea. . .To the sea to the river makes it a perfect analogy of the cyclical nature of a human life, or even things.

Of ever flowing majestic, the mighty, the infinite, the giver of life, of death, of movement, of finality of the passing time, of certainty. It is a perfect analogy of the cyclical nature of a human life, or even things.


Just as the ganga, the Thames, reflects back the mood of the sky and the day, it seems serene, when washed in the sunset colours, or dark and scary and ominous in the inky colours of the night, moody and charged up reflecting the mood of an impending storm effectively.

That’s what I am conditioned to believe in,

the river has no agenda or purpose other than just flow.

It has no reasons other than the physics or the science of the forces that are leading it to be, or do what it does,

nor is it affected by the meanings or rituals that are being attached to it by us.

It just flows…


It is a life giver yes, because of it nature, water- which a life source, it houses hundreds and thousands of species of flora and fauna in and around it, of the thousands it supports human, are one of the many. So if its assigned a gender or a title, to be a father- Father Thames, or mother Ganga (Ganga-ji)does it change the nature of its being?

It just flows regardless.

If anything, the genders assigned, the stories, the mythologies woven around these majestic giants tell us a lot about the cultures they inhabit or flow through.

Humans have always wanted to control, aspire to have powers, or fancy to have them

-our stories, our mythologies reflect these elaborate naked desires as none other, it is no different with both where, both in the UK and India it’s the same-

The tale, the folklore, the mythologies talk about how one was able to part the river to make a path to be walked on or…how one walked on water.

It makes me shudder to even imagine if we had such powers, what we would do?

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