Curating Environments that produce rhizomatic networks
of knowledge exchange through art and philosophy.
 Lakeeren Gallery

Lakeeren Art Gallery : An Accomplished Past and Exciting Future Ahead.

Lakeeren-The Contemporary Art Gallery, one of the first contemporary art galleries to be established in the western suburbs (1995-2003) of Mumbai, India, was conceived with a specific vision. Lakeeren, which in Urdu or Hindi means “lines,” was adopted as a name symbolizing the luminal, threshold or the possibility of crossings that can be traversed through art. Hence, Lakeeren’s very essence translated itself into a specific mission from the very beginning, almost in anticipation of its unique role and vision that ensure it a place in the history of Indian Contemporary art. Consequently, Lakeeren with its innovative concept provided a much-needed impetus for showcasing new, avant-garde contemporary art in India, especially since the mid-1990s posed a difficult moment for Indian contemporary art. It was a period when young and upcoming artists were grappling to establish a unique language that challenged mainstream art practices. This led them to engage with new materials and approaches as way to articulate their resistance.




During that period, installation art, photography and video and web-based art, which were established genres in the west, were also slowly percolating their way into artist’s studios. With no museum or established institutions that would risk exhibiting this work, Lakeeren was one of the first galleries that not only exhibited this new genre of art, which included the likes of handmade paper, black Japan ink, found-objects, ephemeral sculptural, performance art practices, but also allowed a space of discussion and articulation that finally lead to the legitimization of these new avant-garde art practices. This was further propelled by Lakeeren’s strong impetus of creating its own independent platforms of art forums/ organizing seminars, thereby generating a strong agency for art education. The gallery was also one of the first to curate and organize its own outdoor art festival, Jagruti that commemorated 50 years of Indian independence (1996), by promoting the crossing-over of various art forms, namely art, dance, film, and music, as well as presenting installation art to local audiences.

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Lakeeren, in its eight years of existence, presented over 65 group and solo exhibitions including Cinemascope: An Artist’s Tribute to 100 years of Cinema, 1996, The Looking Glass Self: An Exhibition of Contemporary Self Portraits, 1997, The Tale of Six Cities: Glimpsing the Lives of Six Women Artists, Altered Altar: Revisiting the Sacred and the Profane, as well as solo works by Shilpa Gupta, Sharmila Samant, Monali Meher, Archana Hande, Surekha, Baiju Parthan, Jyotte Kolte, Mithu Sen, Amod Damle, Ganesh Gohain, Darshana Vora and Kausik Mukhopadhaya, to name a few.


 
Although Lakeeren physically closed its doors in 2003, it opened a new “intellectual” space of articulation that invested in a historical approach to examining art practices, and thereby continuing its commitment, which has been very gratifying to me as the founder of Lakeeren. Since 2002, I have been enrolled in the PhD program in the History of Art department at Cornell University, under Prof. Salah Hassan, wherein I have been continuing my practice and curetted several independent exhibitions such as Rites/Rights/Rewrite: Women’s Video Art, that traveled to universities such as Cornell (2004), Duke (2005) and Rutgers’s (2006), respectively. This experience has expanded my vision of the gallery, making me visualize Lakeeren’s “lines” more as connecting nodes, or in the words of philosophers Deleuze and Guattari, to be considered within rhizomatic frame of reference.[1] This connection opens up the possibility of extending the galleries past into the future –one that will respond to the onslaught of globalization and the changes within Indian contemporary art as a result of the same. Poised with a degree in Creative Curetting from Goldsmiths College, London in 2001 and PHD in History of Art from Cornell University, USA (2010). The gallery is committed to exhibiting avant –garde and a very strong curatorial impetus, in producing and thinking about the exhibitions.