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The Wrong Biennale provides hope for a new wave of artists

Tasneem Lohani and other artists like Mohit Mahato will be presenting their work at The Wrong Biennale’s Now That The World Is Ending, Let’s Get Together in Bengaluru, India.

by Shraddha NairPublished on : Jan 03, 2022

The Wrong is an organisation conceived with the intention to create a biennale without boundaries. Of course, the first step to this is to go digital. Speaking in terms of viewer numbers, The Wrong outdoes its physical biennale counterparts like Venice, Busan or Kochi, simply by being more accessible through digital media. Tasneem Lohani, an artist based in Bangalore, India, talks to STIR about her experience collaborating with The Wrong to create an ‘embassy’ of The Wrong in India. The endeavour results in an exhibition titled Now That The World Is Ending, Let’s Get Together at 1 ShanthiRoad in Bangalore, which opens on February 22, 2022.

Lohani tells us about the first time she heard of The Wrong. She says, "When I was studying in London, a friend of mine was curating for the 2019 edition of The Wrong, which is how I first got introduced to it. I was really intrigued by the freedom it allowed for a biennale to be spread all over the world, especially through their embassies, which are physical exhibitions made by artists and curators in various parts of the world while still belonging under The Wrong Biennale. And especially inspiring is the freedom for anyone anywhere in the world with their available resources to participate in the biennale. I think it’s radical."

Tasneem Lohani's sound piece, <em>Can I Interest You In Anything All Of The Time, 2021</em> from The Wrong Biennale's online exhibition | Now That The World Is Ending, Lets Get Together | 1 Shanthi Road | The Wrong Biennale | STIRworld
Tasneem Lohani's sound piece, Can I Interest You In Anything All Of The Time, 2021 from The Wrong Biennale's online exhibition Image: Tasneem Lohani

Lohani discusses the refreshing work ethic at The Wrong, emphasising its inclusionary culture. The Wrong provides hope for a new wave of creators, who, coming from the democratic ideal, are rudely shocked by the elitist gatekeeping in the art world. Lohani says, "The exciting thing about The Wrong is that they practice instant radical inclusion, which means that really anyone wanting to join is very welcome without the need of a CV, cover letter, application fee or any of the other cultural industry standards you may encounter regularly. Acceptance ratio of proposals is almost hundred per cent when instructions are followed, energy is positive, and deadlines are met. This model is very empowering for younger artists like myself who are starting out in the art world and are often bogged down by tons of applications followed by rejections. This model allows for artists to take charge of their work, as the only way to show in The Wrong Biennale is to curate your own pavilion or embassy or join someone else's. Artists get to decide how they want to show and present their work and that can be very empowering. While I was in art school in London I was constantly learning how to create, curate, and present exhibitions with my work in it and so self organising an exhibition for The Wrong only felt natural. It eliminates the whole process of lengthy application proposals and the waiting to get accepted so one can start a project." 

Still from Mohit Mahato's film, Pumping Desperation in the Time of Pandemic, 2021 | Now That The World Is Ending, Lets Get Together | 1 Shanthi Road | The Wrong Bi-ennale | STIRworld
Still from Mohit Mahato's film, Pumping Desperation in the Time of Pandemic, 2021 Image: Tasneem Lohani

Lohani grew up in Chennai, India, a city where the Cholamandal artist's village was born. She heard many stories of great Indian artists such as KCS Panicker, C Douglas, P Gopinath and others building their own institution in the absence of one, on their own terms, an approach she continues to find inspiration in. She questions the status quo within which artists today have to survive. She says, “It is true that there are more artists in India that institutions can support, so how can we younger artists continue working? Especially post-covid, as art is being considered ‘non-essential', maybe it is the responsibility of young artists to create their own institutions”.

Lohani began bringing artists of her contemporary together to support each other in the effort to bring to life a group exhibition affiliated to The Wrong. They approached 1 Shanthiroad studio gallery founder, Suresh Jayaram, to co-create this dream with them.

Launch poster from the exhibition | Now That The World Is Ending, Lets Get Together | 1 Shanthi Road | The Wrong Biennale | STIRworld
Launch poster from the exhibition Image: Tasneem Lohani

Lohani’s practice deals with the issues of disembodiment and alienation in the era of digital communication. She works with sound, performance, video and drawing to negotiate the mental and physical impact of these issues, drawing from her personal experiences of online relationships. “For The Wrong Biennale, I have made a new sound piece that explores the experience of voice assistant, Alexa, through the perspective of my three-year-old nephew,” she shares.

Works in the upcoming exhibition range from new media installation, net-based work to performance, sculpture and drawing. The exhibition will feature artists like Rohee Uberoi, Mohit Mahato, Priyanka Lokhande, Ojasvi Peshawaria and Aswathy Chandran.

Tasneem Lohani, Artist |  Now That The World Is Ending, Lets Get Together | 1 Shan-thi Road | The Wrong Biennale | STIRworld
Tasneem Lohani, Artist Image: Tasneem Lohani

The Wrong is a courageous, rebellious and radical effort to turn the art world’s hierarchies on its head. Its existence is a testament to the changing times of the industry, and a signal that the undercurrents which created troubled waters will soon turn into a tsunami that will wash away any signs of exclusivity, elitism, and economic and social prejudices - all the things in the art world which disappoint us repeatedly. The Wrong, more than anything, is a sign of hope.

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