2024 | Lecture by Jury Chair | Vivan Sundaram Grant for Installation Art

Vivan Sundaram Grant for Installation Art 2024

Lecture by Jury Chair

‘The life of installation as a decolonising possibility’ | Lecture by Charles Esche

Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts Foundation (SSAF) invites you to the announcement of the grantee of the Vivan Sundaram Grant for Installation Art 2024,


and a lecture by Charles Esche, chaired by Geeta Kapur


on Tuesday, 21 May 2024, 6–8 pm
at Seminar Halls 1, 2 & 3, Kamaladevi Complex,
India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi


(Tea will be served at 5.30 pm)


The lecture will start from a concern with the question of installation art, seeking not to define it but to look at its effects. In particular, I will look at installation as assemblage and narrative to explore how these aspects might contribute to understanding the horizons that decolonial thinking offers. I will look at works produced in the Van Abbemuseum as well as in international biennales such as São Paulo, including artists such as Anna Boghiguian, Sheela Gowda, El Lissitsky, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Qiu Zhijie amongst others. I will consider how their installations often construct worlds that function within themselves, by implication also allowing other worlds to function nearby. This approach will be contrasted with the totalising ambitions of art history and real existing coloniality-modernity, thus speaking against the installation as a total work of art and shifting towards the aim of a good life for all and care for the planet that nurtures us. Additionally, installations  are significant as a practice because they can give voice to some of the objects within them to speak for themselves – as witnesses or proposals – a form of address that releases the pressure on the subject to be confined by identity politics. Coming to India from western Europe imposes a responsibility to locate my discourse in my corner of the world as one amongst others, and the installations I will talk about help me to do so. In this, I am trying to move away from the universal claims of the west in order to build a (fragile) relation with others. This  process drives my thinking around demodernising as a way for my western European traditions to respond to decolonial thinking and becomes  part of a world of many worlds: something that may or may not have direct  relevance here, but I believe is important to consider given the continuing presence of old and new colonial wounds.

– Charles Esche

Charles Esche (Jury Chair) is director of Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and professor of contemporary art and curating at University of the Arts, London. He is an advisor at Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht and board member of ZKM, Stuttgart. He is co-convenor of Democracy Pavilion and School of Common Knowledge with Zdenka Badovinac and Manolo Borja-Villel. He received the 2012 Princess Margriet Award and the 2014 CCS Bard College Prize for Curatorial Excellence. Among other international exhibitions, he has co-curated ‘The Meeting That Never Was’, MO Museum, Vilnius, 2022; ‘Power and Other Things’, Europalia, BOZAR, Brussels, 2017; ‘Art Turns, Word Turns’; Museum MACAN, Jakarta, 2017; Jakarta Biennale, 2015; ‘How to Talk about Things that Don’t Exist’, 31st Sao Paulo Bienal, 2014; ‘Ideal for Living’, U3 Triennale, Ljubljana, 2011; RIWAQ Biennale, Palestine, 2007 and 2009; Istanbul Biennale, 2005; Gwangju Biennale, 2002. His latest publication is Art and Its Worlds, Afterall and Koenig Press, 2021, and he is writing a book on Demodern Thinking with Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti to be published by Duke University Press in 2025. He is curating ‘Soils’, an exhibition about art, material and belonging, for the Van Abbemuseum, opening in June 2024.


Geeta Kapur is a Delhi-based critic and curator. Her books include Contemporary Indian Artists (1978), When Was Modernism: Essays on Contemporary Cultural Practice in India (2000) and Critic’s Compass: Navigating Practice (forthcoming). Her curatorial work includes an exhibition co-curated at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (1982); a re-hang at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi (1994); ‘Dispossession’, at the Johannesburg Biennale (1995); ‘Bombay/Mumbai’, Century City, co-curated with Ashish Rajadhyaksha at Tate Modern, London (2001); ‘subTerrain’, at the House of World Cultures, Berlin (2003); ‘Aesthetic Bind’, five exhibitions at Chemould Prescott, Mumbai (2013–14). She was Jury member for the Biennales of Venice (2005), Dakar (2006), Sharjah (2007). Geeta Kapur was one of the founder-editors of Journal of Arts & Ideas, an advisory board member of Third Text, and a trustee and advisory editor of Marg. She was advisory member, Asian Art Council, Guggenheim Museum; Asia Tate Research Centre; and Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong. A Trustee of the Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts Foundation (SSAF), Delhi, she is the series editor of Art Documents (SSAF–Tulika Books).