Tell us your story. How did you start?
I was born in Bangalore, India, in 1979. My mother is an ecologist and my father an acoustic engineer.I have studied at a school founded by the philosopher J. Krishnamurti. I think this particular combination has decisively contributed to my artistic appetite. In 1998, after high school I left for the United States to study fine arts. I moved to New York about six years ago to complete my course of studies at Bard College and to attend the Independent Study Program (ISP) at the Whitney Museum.
You were born in India and have lived in the United States. How has your work impacted on the link to two such different lands?
Bangalore, where I grew up and where my parents still live, is a large and cosmopolitan city - one of the fastest growing cities in the world - and where, going abroad to study when I left, it certainly was not considered as unusual. I grew up speaking English and watching the same movies about Indians, American and other foreign films, thus the U.S. didnít shock me in any way. The strange thing was that my American peers knew very little of India. What I was really impressed by is how the political and economic power is able to produce this uneven distribution of knowledge.
Besides being an artist you have been editor of a culture magazine, Shifter. How did your role as a publisher reconciled with that of an artist?
In 2004 I founded the magazine Shifter, as a platform for artists, poets and critical thinkers from different disciplines. The name of the magazine refers to the term coined by Roman Jakobson describing words such as "I" and "We" in which the meaning changes depending on who is speaking, as much as the message is expressed. Topics covered are related to issues on subjectivity and subject formation. Shifter represents a very important extension of my work as an artist. The job of editor allows you to be in constant dialogue with artists and cultural managers, and this gave me the opportunity to further topics and issues relevant to my practice. I worked with different co-editors on every topic between the eleventh
and the sixteenth number. Starting from the seventeenth number Matthew Metzger has become my permanent co-editor. To be able to follow every operational aspect of a magazine, ranging from editing to page layout, to graphics to the website takes a long time and a different type of concentration than the one used for making art. And I believe that the advantages of my job far outweigh the sacrifices.
Different forms of expression from photography to video installation compose your work: where do you identify yourself the most? Tell us about your work.
My work examines the way through which the paradigms of power produce and constitute our relationship with objects and events in the world. In order to investigate the meanings and themes produced by the regimes of power, in fact, I cannot ask myself questions before entering a project. Therefore I tend to use for each project a different means of expression, most appropriate for my research. That said, there is a particular medium that I find particularly exciting and that 'returns' always: photography. I often find myself torn between the apparent transparency and immateriality of the photographic image, and the skin as an affirmation of the paintingís surface. I try to use mixed media, so the surface of photography is mixed with painting procedures. This trend is quite evident in recent projects like "Knot Zero " (Art Statements at Art | 41 | Basel) and "Leo" in GallerySKE of Bangalore, a work that will be also presented in my next show "Storeys End" at the Nordenhake Galerie in Berlin.
Is there an artist who particularly inspires you?
I find myself returning again and again on certain writers for insight and inspiration. Among them I include Jorge Luis Borges, Vilém Flusser and Ludwig Wittgenstein (especially the more mature works). I've always been drawn to the issues addressed by artists like Kosuth and Nauman in the 60s and 70s and have been trying to use the methods of conceptualism for my socio-political surveys. Recently I approached the work of Edward Krasinski and what involved me was his ability to know how to reconcile a complex picture of formalist analysis with strategies and a tendency to sober narrative.
This year you won a scholarship at the prestigious Civitella Ranieri Foundation. Tell us about this experience.
Civitella Ranieri is a strikingly handsome and supportive place. I am spending my time reading, collecting my thoughts and working on new exhibits. Here Iím surrounded by a small but intelligent dynamic group of artists, writers and composers from around the world. This is my first extended stay in Italy and I cannot imagine a better place in which to spend it.
Now that you are in Italy you have got to get an idea of Italian art. What do you think?
During this brief period in Italy I had the good fortune to know many artists, curators and critics, as well as visiting exhibitions in museums and Roman foundations. The qualities of these interactions are strong and rigorous statements. The free art publishing world makes me think that Italy at this time is the perfect place for contemporary art.