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The Venice Biennale 2005

Since the Venetian City Council passed a resolution in 1893 to set up a Biennale Exhibition of Italian Art, the Venice Biennale has become the world's most important event in the art calendar.

The 51st installment of the exhibition started on June 12, 2005 and will take place throughout the city of Venice and is curated by a two women ' Maria de Corral and Rosa Martinez, a first in the history of the Biennale. Their exhibitions are titled 'The experience of Art' and ' Always a little further' respectively.

Six Indian artists will participate in this year's Biennale ' Atul Dodiya, Anita Dube and Nataraj Sharma will represent painting and sculpture with their major works while Ranbir Kaleka, Nalini Malani, and Raqs Media Collective have been commissioned for the Media arts. Peter Nagy, Julie Evans and Gordon Knox curate the exhibition in association with Lucas Artists Programs and Nuova Icona, the organizers of this exhibition focusing on contemporary art from India.

In the modern history of the Biennale, there has never been an India Pavilion. iCon: India Contemporary, which will take place in the 13th Century convent on the island of Giudecca that will soon be home to the Museo della Gondola

In an interview with Peter Nagy, Atul Dodiya rejects the general expectations to keep his art 'Indian' especially at the Venice Biennale, an event where artists are specifically asked to represent their nations. He has chosen instead to use the paintings of Enzo Cucchi as his springboard because of the obvious Italian connection. Dodiya often feels that certain works are more appropriate for a particular venue than others but immediately allays notions that his works are site specific, countering that all his works go through a long gestation period before the paintings actually appear.

Anita Dube too has been concerned with creating something that will relate to Venice and it's environment for the Biennale rather than the concept of 'Indianess'. Her works will bear her visual strategy of repetition edged with political and erotic dimensions.

Nataraj Sharma has adapted one of his earlier painting 'Air Show' to a sculpture for the Venice Biennale. The three dimensional grid orders his thoughts and confirms his belief that an artist is occupied with a few main themes through their life.

For the Biennale, Ranbir Kaleka has put together a large installation of 4 paintings with projections. The videos give a sense of traveling through time and arriving at a moment. A dimension of space is created and there is also a psychological component that allows the viewer to move between the different geographies.

Nalini Malani's work for the Biennale is a video installation titled 'Mother India: Transactions in the Construction of Pain' which is inspired by an article by Veena Das. The artist explores the paradoxical status of the Indian woman from being exalted to the status of a goddess and to the painful humiliations inflicted upon womankind in their daily lives.

Raqs Media, a collective consisting of Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta, has assembled an installation for the Biennale in Venice, about the kinds of acts that inhibit listening.

The diversity of the works of the represented artists in technique, medium and subject give a sample of the sheer variety of works emanating from the subcontinent. With India's economic surge and its growing prominence in technology, literature and global politics, it is a natural consequent that the world's largest democracy expresses itself in the arts.

Artist Profiles on Atul Dodiya, Nalini Malani, Nataraj Sharma, Ranbir Kaleka are available on www.saffronart.com

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