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Artist Ambuja Magaji speaks about
her selections for 'Video Art from India'
Sept. 23, 2011
Video art is a relatively new mode of artistic expression that is taking hold all over the world and, as a new exhibition at the Community College of Rhode Island demonstrates, has the ability to show us different cultures and perspectives.
On Sept. 22, artist Ambuja Magaji visited the CCRI Knight Campus Art Gallery to speak about the exhibition, “Video Art from India,” which features the work of 11 contemporary video artists who mostly reside in India, including some whose work has not been displayed previously in the United States. It will be on display through Oct. 14.
Magaji, an Indian artist who now resides in Cranston, selected the works.
“This [exhibition] is a good introduction to Indian video art,” she said. “It gives a perspective of Indian video artists and how we see the world.”
Magaji said that the video pieces show a strong connection to Indian culture and address issues such as gender equality, celebrity and the dissonance between India’s traditional culture and new technology and ideas.
Artist Manjunath Reddy’s “The Anonymous Among the Crowd,” for example, examines the concepts of mass media and the celebrity culture – a theme that should be familiar to any Westerner – from a uniquely Indian perspective. Giant banners of politicians and other celebrities are a common sight on Indian streets, so Reddy created his own versions that feature four street vendors. He then filmed the reactions of the vendors, their customers and members of the public to question the idea of celebrity.
Another piece in the exhibition, “Untitled,” by Mangala A.M., explores the issue of gender equality in India. India has traditionally worshipped female goddesses and, yet, the artist says, marginalizes women socially.
Magaji’s own “Everything is Blurr” captures her experience of coming to America and adapting to a new culture. She earned a degree in printmaking from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat College of Fine Arts in Bangalore, India, in 2004 and a master’s degree in media studies from Rhode Island College in 2008. She first started working with video art in 2007.
“I’ve always been interested in videos, even before I was in media studies,” Magaji said. “I like the instant approach it gives. The technology becomes a tool for me.”
Magaji said video art has been popular in India since about 2003 or 2004, when the technology became much more cheap and accessible. Rather than dealing with video tape and ponderous equipment, artists could use a small, portable digital camera and a laptop to make high-quality videos.
Magaji said that Indian video artists, in particular, have a strong connection to their culture and often rely heavily on the use of color. She invited the public to visit “Video Art from India” and leave comments.
Knight Campus Art Galley Director Viera Levitt said that video art is a global language, and she hopes the CCRI community will visit the exhibition. “I’m hoping they’ll get some insight into a different culture,” she said.
The gallery is located in Room 3500 on the third floor of the round building at the Knight Campus. Gallery hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday.