Curation as Writing/Exhibition as Book – Part I: Nancy Adajania

steffiThe following day the Ensemble shifted its focus to exhibition models in three sessions each examining ‘Curation as Writing/Exhibition as Book.’ Stefanie Hessler served as moderator throughout these sessions and she began by reminding the Ensemble of the dramatic changes to the distribution of text that had been explored the previous day, and asking how the social and political limits of books could be understood in a contemporary context.

The first session began with the question of how, with the figure of the curator having gradually assumed roles traditionally relegated to the critic, the exhibition as critical text has modelled itself along or resisted the relationship that the book has with space and time. Nancy Adajania presented a series of photographs by Sheba Chhachhi in which women activists in India were invited to choose the settings and props for their own portraits. The notebook or diary is a recurring motif on the margins of these photographs, emerging as a vehicle of emancipation as these women encouraged each other to write. Once again the Ensemble was reminded of the significance of feminist and marginal writing practices raised earlier by peers including Wallis and Singh Soin.

Earlier Strøm-Olsen and Niermann noted the waning mainstream platforms for critical writing, and Adajania noted that it now falls to curators to produce these critical accounts. She cited historical European precedents such as Salon des Refuses as well as postmodern examples from closer to home including Geeta Kapur’s 1981 exhibition Place for People and her own 2013 exhibition No Parsi is an Island.



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