Rajiv Menon Contemporary

The Past is a country

Exhibition by

Rajiv Menon Contemporary

May 15, 2024- June 3rd, 2024

Public opening May 15, 2024 

6-9 PM

3110 W. Sunset Blvd.

Los Angeles CA 90026


RRajiv Menon Contemporary presents The Past is a Country: Indo-Nostalgia in Contemporary Art, an intergenerational group exhibition bringing together artists from South Asia and its diasporas to examine the intersection of politics, identity, history, and emotion through a culturally-specific lens of nostalgia. The exhibition contextualizes “South Asianness” around an ephemeral emotional experience as it relates to memory, and contends with an era of political tumult, climate change, fractured communities, and the patterns of migration of South Asians.he Past is a Country presents work across mediums and of varying scale by nineteen artists, the majority having never exhibited in the United States. 

The artists are Mohd. Intiyaz, Vikrant Bhise, Saumya Sankar Bose, Bhasha Chakrabarti, Misha Japanwalla, Sivasubramaniam Kajendran, Shyama Golden, Firi Rahman, Shradha Kochhar, Utkarsh Makwana, Hamid Ali Hanbhi, Asad Ali Qulandar, Swapna Tamhaane, Mussarat Arif, Russna Kaur, Manjari Sharma, Noormah Jamal, and Sanié Bokhari


now streaming

Exhibition by

Rajiv Menon Contemporary

February 13, 2024- March 3rd, 2024

Public opening February 13, 2024

6-9 PM

3110 W. Sunset Blvd.

Los Angeles CA 90026

There’s a common trope of the Non-Resident Indian returning to the motherland, and departing with a suitcase stuffed past its weight limit with reminders of home–snacks, clothes, and, in a pre-streaming era, DVDS. Expats and immigrants were binge watching well before the term rose to prominence, gorging months of content at a time, ravenous for the entertainment culture that flowed like water in India. Today, thanks to streaming video, Indian film and TV can be accessed anywhere, instantly and effortlessly.

However, when it comes to contemporary art, distances still feel vast. It remains difficult to regularly see the exciting young artists exhibiting in the subcontinent outside its borders. While South Asia is home to a vibrant arts ecosystem, the west often still views this world as a mostly regional phenomenon, much to their own detriment

 Now Streaming brings several of the most culture-shifting young artists from India and wider South Asia into conversation with diasporic artists from around the world. This pairing reveals the distinct ways that new voices from the subcontinent are fundamentally engaged  in dialogues beyond borders.All of these artists build an aesthetic of transnationalism that draws on deep historical precedents; realms like the Indian Ocean trade zone and the silk road entailed that the regional and the global were always inextricably linked. I’m particularly interested in how the artists express this through the motif of many types of streams: digital media, popular entertainment, oceans, migration routes, and more. I want to reject the notion that these artists’ regional affiliation is at odds with their global sensibility. In contrast, I believe it is precisely their regional placement that allows them to articulate globality in ways that are often inaccessible in an American context. Now Streaming announces the arrival of an exciting new cohort of emerging painters from India and beyond, and puts these dynamic, vibrant voices on the map in Los Angeles.

 

ITEM NUMBER

THE INAUGURAL EXHIBITION BY

RAJIV MENON CONTEMPORARY

NOVEMBER 9-18, 2023

PUBLIC OPENING NOVEMBER 9TH,

6-9 PM

AMAN AHEERANOUSHKA MIRCHANDANIASIF HOQUEBHASHA CHAKRABARTIHIBA SCHAHBAZ, MAYA SEASNIBHA AKIREDDYNOORAIN INAMPREETIKA RAJGARIAHRENLUKA MAHARAJSAHANA RAMAKRISHNANSANIÉ BOKHARISHAILEE MEHTASHYAMA GOLDENTUDA MUDA

In South Asian Cinema, the item number is a unique type of song-and-dance scene. Usually featuring a woman performing to a high tempo, sexy track, the scene typically has little to do with the rest of the film. More often than not, the protagonist of the item number never appears again. The item number exists, in filmi parlance, to add a bit of masala, but is never the whole meal. It is ultimately subordinate and minor when compared to the rest of the film.

Work by South Asian artists is often treated the same way in the western world. In these contexts, art with origins in the subcontinent appears as novel, sensual, and above all else, exotic, but is ultimately just a detour from more significant aesthetic geographies. Here, it is one of many different types of numbered item: an artifact, commodity, or a token

And yet, despite its marginality-by-design, the item number is often the most memorable part of a film. In these scenes, characters are often subversive, cheeky, and rebellious. These moments are iconic in diasporic and queer circles, where item numbers’ unabashed commitment to pleasure and excess is a necessary challenge to the oppressive conditions of everyday life. A type of performance seemingly rooted in objectification emerges as something much more challenging and provocative.

ITEM NUMBER, the inaugural show by Rajiv Menon Contemporary, explores this dynamic through a groundbreaking survey of South Asian artists working in the western world. The artists in this exhibition reclaim the concept of the exotic, locating a source of defiance and empowerment. Across painting, textile and mixed media, the works in ITEM NUMBER boldly reimagine the visual vocabulary of objectification and foreignness, finding modes of expression that mark the arrival of a confident cohort of South Asian voices.


 


Click through the artworks to experience a tour through our past exhibitions.