Artist in Residence: Ashok Vish

Residency dates – 25 August to 28 September

Ashok Vish‘s practice draws from his training as a filmmaker and interests in other aspects of image-making such as video and photography. His work has been an examination of the complexities of human identity, especially questioned identities against the larger context of our society. Following a research-based practice, other ideas of sexual identity, gender roles and social pressure are at the core of his interests. Vish places emphasis on exploring the associations between human emotions & adversity and their corresponding public and personal personas. This affords him the opportunity to investigate the relation between the imagery of fictional worlds and the conditions of reality, and sometimes merging both fiction and non-fiction with each other. His overriding objective for all of his projects has been to create narratives, whether linear or abstract, that, in turn, open up spaces for greater engagement between audience and imagery, between viewers and subjects, because doing so helps to bridge the seemingly wide chasms that separate “us” from “them”.

Vish’s films have screened in several film festivals such as the Chicago South Asian Film Festival, Chelsea Film Festival, New York Indian Film Festival, StarLite Film Festival, at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City and the Full On Film festival at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Vish’s film ‘A Boy Called Boris’ was screened at 1Shanthiroad studio/gallery as part of a group exhibition titled ‘Much to say’, showcased along with paintings by visual artist Bhuvanesh Kumar. Apart from his films, Vish’s video art and photography have shown at galleries such as A.M (Art Multi- disciplines) Studio in Kolkata, Art Konsult in Delhi, Gallery Sumukha in Bangalore, Art Houz in Bangalore, Maximilians Forum in Munich. Vish was also selected for the 2018 ‘PEERS Share’ programme organized by Khoj International Artists Association, New Delhi and participated in an artist residency at Lichtenberg Studios in Berlin, Germany on August 2018.

More about Ashok’s Project:

Not Just a Place That Sells Beer, It Sells Nectar
Although the UK has witnessed what can only be called a significant number of closures and destruction of queer spaces and nightlife venues over the past few years, in India, the opposite has been true. With changes in India’s legal system, the face of India’s social fabric has changed too: A newly tolerant culture on the cusp of social change has created an environment in which venues catering to the queer community have begun to spring up like never before. Drawing a parallel to this contrasting phenomenon around LGBTQ spaces in both countries is the foundational basis for my work.

By closely investigating sites of gay cruising such as bars, clubs and niche fetish venues in the UK, I aim to challenge the argument that the necessity for such spaces has decreased as a direct result of increased inclusivity in society by shining light on the importance of the specific sub-cultures and socio-cultural communities formed and fostered at such venues. The aim of my work is to remind everyone that a good queer bar/space accepts everyone, and celebrates all the things the world tells you are wrong. It is, in fact and above all else, the indescribable lure of cruising—the outlaw desires, transient encounters, and unbridled sexual activity—that drives the establishment of such spaces, and that keeps them in business, even in this digital age.

The work will initially take the form of a live-cinema performance—film clips accompanied by live dancing to disco and pop songs, and a read-through of fictionalized stories of people who frequent such venues and the culture they find there. Following further research, the work will culminate into an experimental film.

In conversation: Ashok Vish at Midlands Arts Centre with Skinder Hundal

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