6-12 February 2015 #744

Samar Singh Jodha

Jodha is in Kathmandu to talk about Sustainability and capacity-building through art

Indian artist Samar Singh Jodha has for the past 20 years been pushing the envelope of photography and film to address social issues like development, human rights and conservation. 

Which brings us to the question: isn’t art supposed to be art’s sake? Does art need a cause? The debate is probably as old as art itself, but Jodha has no doubts about where his sympathies lie. It lies with people who are disenfranchised, and issues that are marginalised by the juggernaut of worlwide consumerism.

Art itself is getting homogenised in the meat grinder of globalisation, and Jodha wants to rescue the medium before it is too late so that it can retain its honesty and character. Art has gone commercial, many investors see dollar signs when they see a work of art. And a handful of “experts” decide subjectively what is an important piece of work and what is not.

In a work about migrant miners in the coal mines of Assam, Jodha shows us images of the shacks of miners made from scrap metal crafted from the very raw materials that they sweat in inhuman conditions to excavate. 

Jodha’s works have been shown in galleries and museums in Mumbai, Delhi, Barcelona, Boston, Frankfurt, London, New York, Washington DC and Australia. Jodha’s eight-year long project on ageing in India remains the single biggest social communication project in terms of outputs and outreach. Extracts of it were showcased at Whitechapel Gallery, London and Fotomuseum, Zurich in 2010.

His five-year work on the making of world’s tallest habitat was featured on Discovery, National Geographic as well as exhibited at New York’s Skyscraper Museum. His televison project has been showcased worldwide (most recently at The Needle On The Gauge in Adelaide, Australia) and described by The New York Times as ‘A beautiful series of photographs (that) documents the now-pervasive presence of television in Indian life.’

Bhopal – A Silent Picture, a 40 foot installation was showcase by Amnesty International during the Olympics in London, with 150,000 visitors at the multi-media public art project. Phaneng – his award winning portraiture project about the disappearing Tai Phake, a Buddhist tribe in India’s northeast was seen at Religare Art, New Delhi in 2008 and Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. in 2010. He continues to work closely with this endangered community.

Jodha is in Kathmandu this week, and will be showing a film and discussing his works at a talk moderated by Kunda Dixit at the Himalayan Bank Auditorium .

Talk by Samar Singh Jodha 

5:30 pm, Friday 6 February

Himalayan Bank Auditorium



Read also:

Art and the planet, Stéphane Huët

Art for heart’s sake, Stéphane Huët

The art of escape, Min Ratna Bajracharya

Whose art is it anyway?, Rabi Tapa