by Dilpreet BhullarJan 29, 2020
Contemporary art gallery David Zwirner returns to the India Art Fair 2020, in New Delhi. In its third consecutive year, the gallery will present 15 works of Marcel Dzama, the Canadian artist who has extensively been shown across the world. Dzama’s first major museum exhibition, The Lotus Eaters, took place in 2005 at Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, Barcelona, which travelled to Le Magasin – Centre National d’Art Contemporain de Grenoble, France. His other notable solo exhibitions include those organised by Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2008); Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2010); Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague (2011); Museo de Arte de Zapopan, Mexico (2012); and Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain (2012).
In an exclusive chat with STIR before the opening of the event, Dzama talks about his work and fascination for Indian (Bollywood) dances!
Rahul Kumar (RK): You draw from vernacular and art-historical inspirations. What lead you to reference these distinct and dual ideologies?
Marcel Dzama (MD): I draw inspiration from almost any source that catches my eye, but I do enjoy contradiction of different ideologies. There is something I like in it that adds mischief and humour to a work.
RK: You often depict the ‘real and sub-conscious’ in the same frame. What is your desired intent from the viewer on interpreting your works?
MD: When you play with the subconscious, everything you draw from can be taken as a sign. It can represent something deeper. Sometimes, I mix that subconscious with reality, it is that enjoyment of contradiction again. The only time I deal with a more reality-based work is when I get political. I feel that it is an exorcism of the day’s news that I just need to get out of me so I can sleep at night. Reality is more absurd than my subconscious these days.
RK: Your practice is versatile in the use of media and format to produce the art you make. What governs the decision on the choices, say for instance, painting vs. film vs. installation? Please elaborate your thought process on how you go about this, especially given that the use of technology itself lacks intimacy with art, both for you as a creator and for the viewer as well.
MD: Drawing for me as always, the basis of everything, leads me to film ideas or sculptures or installations even. I can draw for months at a time but at some point, I get tired of it and I like to switch the medium. When I am drawing, I barely socialise, so making a film is a good excuse to get together with friends. Mostly everyone I work with is a friend on set. The technology part I do not mind as the new cameras are so affordable. Now you do not have to spend most of your budget on film or even rentals, you can get a pretty reasonable camera and work on no budget, even an iPhone camera is powerful enough these days. One part of technology that I do find rather annoying is editing on a computer, so I usually work with an editor friend, so I do not have to deal with editing on a computer. I used to edit alone when I was much young. By splicing film together, or editing on beta max tapes from a machine to another machine, it was more analog and I could figure things out much easier, but I am somewhat computer illiterate compared to you, most people my age. But I do like editing with an editor because the whole story is really built there in the editing.
RK: Please tell us more about the works you will present at the upcoming exhibit at India Art Fair. How have you sourced inspiration from the Indian culture for the works?
MD: Most of the influence on this new work has been from early Indian films I had seen, and albums covers and lobby cards from early Bollywood films that I purchased when I lived in Winnipeg, Canada. Winnipeg has a large Indian population and they were quite a few stores where you could purchase vintage movies and records. I was drawn in by the choreography.
RK: Can we get a sneak-peek into the planned mural that you will paint directly on the wall in the booth at the fair? What is the concept of the work? Will it be pre-planned, or will you allow it to grow and evolve as you paint?
MD: I hope to let it evolve from whatever experiences I have while I am there. I am sure it will have a dance theme to it. I want to be spontaneous, play with that space and in the medium.