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  The nerve center of India, New Delhi is not only the political capital but also the cultural capital of the country. Ever since its inception the India Habitat Centre which is situated in the heart of New Delhi, has made its presence felt. In the last couple of years it has become the center of contemporary cultural, economic, business and social events. The concern for the habitat and its environment works as the backbone of this pulsating complex.
 


The large almost 5000 square feet of space which presently works as an art exhibition space with its adjoining sculptural park has vast and unlimited potential for developing as a public playground for developing and presenting new and challenging work across the arts and for forging innovative way of thinking about culture.

 


With globalization and the breaking down of national identities there is also a deepening of national and indigenous cultures and traditions. In India the contemporary and the traditional exist side by side defying all the post modern labeling which is so much part of Western ideology. Modern India is truly multi layered and multi cultural and is symbolic of the holistic approach towards learning which is now entering the rarified portals of academia in the West.

 


The exhibition space at the Habitat Centre has for the last couple of years started holding regular exhibitions of works of artists which comes under the 'genre' of thigh art. This is very much part of the modern traditions of displaying art. As We move into the 21st century there is a need for developing a new critical vocabulary and the large exhibition space can fill this void by creating a much needed Centre of the Visual Arts.

 


The Habitat Visual Arts Centre will cross reference the plastic and the performing arts and provide the ideal platform to bridge the gap. With the integration of different art forms and a movement towards a multi disciplinary approach towards the understanding and dissemination of art the Indian Habitat Centre could once again become a pioneer in injecting a much needed trajectory. The exhibition space at the Habitat Centre will not only showcase works of well known artists, but will also provide a platform for the artist in the marking, whereby the accent will be more on the process of work rather than the work itself.

 


The National Museum is a site of archaeological finds, the Crafts Museum is restricted to the craft tradition, and the National Gallery of Modern Art confines itself to the holding of art exhibitions. What the Habitat Visual Arts Centre would do it that it would not only hold regular art exhibitions which would be professionally curated but would also work in a more subliminal manner by ensuring that each art exhibition would have a set of related activities which would enhance and explore the art medium on display.

 


The exhibition space instead of being a static art gallery would be turned into a dynamic and interactive space, where the viewer and the artist would be in constant dialogue and movement. The exhibition space could also be utilized for holding regular talks, seminars, dance & music performances, videos, site specific installations, and informal discussions where the gap between the artist and the viewer could become more pro active. The seeds of creative thought processes and development of a new trajectory could be sown right in the midst of the Habitat Centre. The Habitat Visual Arts Centre could be the spring board for the much needed dissemination of high art and the cultural translations of popular art. (HVAC)

 


APPROACHES

 


The possibilities and strategies are endless.

 


1.

 
A three month art appreciation courses twice a year for the initiated and the uninitiated at different levels could be conducted within the space itself.
 


2.

 
Collectors and art historians could talk about art as investment, art as way of life, art for the sake of art to begin with.
 


3.

 
A fresh insight into the folk and tribal arts of the country could be provided by bringing in the traditional masters of art and craft. Regular workshops by the master crafts persons could shed light on the creativity within tradition in the country.
 


4.

 
An arts café and an art bookshop in the sculptural park would make available the latest books and materials related to art. The café could become a hub of art activity. A special menu which would be simple but special, probably tea, coffee, croissants and biscuits with a special price could attract artists away from the Triveni Complex which has become a hub for artists.
 


5.

 
The HVAC could hold an annual art competition for artists under 30 and institute an award for the habitat Artist of the Year Award in this way become the patron for discovering fresh talent within the country.
 


6.

 
The HVAC could also become a marketing center by encouraging art sales. It could offer its member special schemes to buy art of artists who exhibit at the HVAC through installments and also by selling through the net.
 


7.

 
Dances, musicians and artists could be invited to talk about their works over a cup of tea through the series "Lecture of the Month" for example Sitar Maestro Ravi Shanker could be interviewed by the dancer Leela Samson thus bringing two different mediums of dance and music under one umbrella and establishing a relationship between the two, as in the same way the painter M.F. Hussain could be interviewed by film maker Shyam Benegal and the relationship framing of a film shot and a painting could be established. Through the "Lecture on the Month" the gap between the different art forms can be bridged.
 


8.

 
Design has become an integral part of art practices. From furniture to life styles exhibitions, fashion styles to interior design from architectural practices to theatre props and sets, design has become increasingly and inextricably linked to the world of art. A sries of shows and events exploring the role of design in art can be planned for the exhibition space. At the HVAC curating lifestyle shows which explore the multi dimensions of design, could be held once every three months. (eg a workshop and exhibition of Ikebana - the Japanese style of flower arrangements, and a nature cure workshop could be held simultaneously. Both activities are based on the principles governed through nature.)
 


9.

 
Fashion designers, and interior designers could be presented in one show, and this show could become the harbinger of many more integrated shows.
 


10.

 
Through the large and colourful canvas of activity the aim of the Centre would bring the young and the old, the performers and the non performers i.e. writers all under one umbrella.
 


11.

 
Most of the events would be paid events so that the cost of running the workshops could be met. Sponsors for the exhibitions and lifestyle shows could also be a possibility.
 


12.

 
A state of the art catalogue which would be a collector's item would emerge from the annual activities of the Habitat Centre for the Visual Arts. It would not only be a document of the years activities but would have contributions, articles and features which would discuss issues and provide the academic component to the year long activities.
 

 

 
WITHOUT BEING A REGULAR CLUB, THE HABITAT CENTRE FOR VISUAL ARTS (HVAC) CAN USE ITS SPACE BRILLIANTLY AND BECOME AN ADDICTIVE CULTURAL SPACE.