[rohrpost] Adajania: Public Sphere in India (NBK, 17.9.03, 19 Uhr)

Inke Arns inke at snafu.de
Mon Sep 15 16:44:06 CEST 2003

[unbedingt empfehlenswert!]

Mittwoch, 17. September 2003, 19 Uhr

„Anchored Illusions, Floating Realities: Two Mediatic Claims
to the Public Sphere in India“

Vortrag von Nancy Adajania (Bombay)

Kulturtheoretikerin, Filmemacherin, Kunstkritikerin und
Chef-Redakteurin von "Art India"  (in englischer Sprache)

- im Rahmen der Asien-Pazifik-Wochen 2003 -

Chausseestr. 128-129
10115 Berlin


Anchored Illusions, Floating Realities:
Two Mediatic Claims to the Public Sphere in India

– Nancy Adajania

In this lecture, I shall address a key cultural phenomenon that has
taken place in India during the last decade: the assertion of two
rival claims, with regard to the embodiment of the public sphere.
The first is that made by the televisual mass media; the second is
that made by the emergent new media art practices, on the other.

At first sight, it appears that both these rival claimants employ
similar conceptual tools and devices, such as interactivity and
interface to express solidarity with their audiences. They appear,
also, to share an implicit assumption: that the nation no longer
provides the space for the representation of public opinion and the
‘public will’. These similarities apart, however, their approaches are
strikingly divergent, and even produce a significant paradox. On the
one hand, the televisual media, especially in the favoured format of
the ‘hard news’ talk show, simulate rather than actually represent
‘the public’ in whose name they speak. By permitting selected
citizens to air their sense of grievance, such formats frame an
‘open secret’ or ‘common knowledge’ scenario that leaves the
status quo unchanged and unchallenged. On the other hand, new
media artists, who do not claim to speak in the name of the
general public but conduct their art in the form of argument or
inquiry, direct their individual probes into systemic hegemonies and
distortions, so bearing witness to the political, social and cultural
processes of the public sphere, through a spectrum of modes
ranging from irony to radical critique.

The difference in economic positioning (corporate vs. individual) and
institutional scale (‘infotainment’ industry vs. ‘avant-garde art’) and
scale that separates these two claimants leads us to the core of
the paradox. Unfortunately, the ‘anchored illusions’ of the
simulation presented by the televisual mass media has a local and
immediate bearing to its audience; while the powerful probes of
new media art practices remain ‘floating realities’, since their works
are not seen by the local audience at large, many a times
premiered first in international exhibitions and then shown at select
local galleries. And therefore, even the most politically engaged
new media art from India (I stress, deliberately, ‘from’ over ‘in’) has
its existence in an ephemeral virtuality that does not impinge
greatly upon the local that is its original locus. This is the situation
that Indian cultural producers – artists, critics, curators – must
confront today.