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Why I do what I do

This website will give you a glimpse into my work as an artist,  community builder and activist. I have been negotiating the world through the lens of a creative entrepreneur for the last two decades. It's been a wonderful journey with a lot of learning and collaborating with people I deeply respect.
In the coming years, I believe that creative thinkers will be crucial to document, stitch, hold and present the world. We are at the very edge of collapse on one side, and of a future that can spin out into unimaginable wonders on the other. I believe we can get to the happier side by working together!

In Memory Of – Post Show Report

January 30th, 2009

Girls – Overall I have come out of this show with some good feedback and a clear direction about where I want to head over the next 2 months. Suresh Jayaram is going to mentor my process of creating a cohesive narrative of the 18 odd books that I have. The plan is to tell the story of my life and experiences through poems and drawings, but this time will a little more structure so that it all doesn’t appear fragmentary to the viewer. At the end of this 2 month exercise I should have 1 book that is the amalgamation of the 18 that I can go and push out to publishing houses…

The show comprised of:
>> 16 original sketch books + 16 Artist Prints of each
>> A large wall painting (15ft x 12ft)
>> A time-elapse documentation of the painting process projected on the opp wall
>> An installation of hand-drawn frames that spanned one wall (25ft x 20ft) with my video art projected onto it.

I sold 1 book print and 4 drawing prints. I guess I was just super lucky and they were priced right. The book prints were each for Rs. 10,000 and the drawings were Rs 1000 for the small ones and Rs. 1500 for the larger ones.

The wall painting experiment came together really well. I realised that scaling was not a problem for me. I think the problem really was with working with colour (something that I haven’t really faced before). Here is the write up that I had about the show. Martha came and reviewed it too!


NOTE: A photo was taken every 10 secs for this 8 hour performance.


This exhibition explores impermanence and memory. It is in the simple gestures of a moving, shifting impermanence that the beauty and truth of spontaneity erupts.

Through this show, I reveal the inner thought and process of creating my work. I present drawings, poetry and video art as remembered reproductions of experiences felt long ago, inspired by everyday moments. I look at my work as spontaneous and poetic attempts to capture these experiences, and choose to show them as they are – without the imposition of formal structure and construction.

The drawings are not illustrations of what is written. Rather, both drawing and writing are used in an attempt to capture a thought or memory that is triggered by the present. The smell of jasmine as I pass by a flower vendor may remind me of a moment with my grandmother 15 years ago. In that moment, the force of memory is immense. These illusive thoughts, transitory and in the moment, like a fragrance, are recollected as diary notations of images and text.

It is the present that links to the past, and thus the objects and experiences that inspire memory – the flowers, the vendor – are also important. They are the catalyst that recreate that one moment with the sun streaming down on my childhood. Like thought, my works flitter between the then and the now fluidly.

This process of reference, remembering and memory in the moment is what I try to capture through this show. On display are 15 of my personal diaries – representing the visual poetry and written drawings over the last 4 years – alongside the site-specific installations and video-art.

This show is dedicated to my grandmother – Smt. Ammani Iyengar.

Art Review by Martha in the Deccan Herald

Youthful musing

“In Memory Of,” Archana Prasad’s exhibition at 1 Shanthi Road Studio/Gallery (January 16 to 18), revolved round the artist’s childhood and youth moods, oscillating from warm recollections about her grandmother, family and friends to an honest, personal focus. Suitably, it was threaded of diary books and pages of drawings, notes and poems in an installation or environment-space accompanied by a video.

One appreciated Archana’s patient dedication, effortless perseverance, her grace and sometimes courageous openness. The trouble came, however, with her rather literal approach. The visibly skilled, lightly executed sketches were meant to interact with the words, but actually came through illustration-like because of their very stylised and self-limited form that derived from a cultured, popular here book and comic convention. Sporadically, the artist ventured into more interesting areas, adding an expressive realistic touch or giving in to the immediate intimacy of rough sketches.

The use of sheets with drawings hung installation-wise on twisted wires was too simplistic to translate beyond the obvious. If one liked the backdrop of stencilled floral motifs, the video projection on it had similar imperfections. One would want to caution the artist about adopting formulae and self-indulgency.


Post Comment
  • hey Arcna… A big Congratulations to you! The images look great. I love the way the big work on wall has turned out… I think you are heading the right way, baby…
    Yeah, what you were saying about color… I think, you can start by doing textural and monochromatic works, blending with the white space, I do feel your strengths are in the graffiti type work…
    I see you big time…internationally, in Tate :-)
    Do post the reviews of the show.
    The artist state ment is nice, but I just think it could have some “twists” or links… like connect your work universally, it always makes it more interesting if works are not too personnal. Yours are, but now maybe you can introduce or conceptualise a new angle…
    About my show, nothing was so spectacular… so I dont know what to say…

  • Yeah, complete agreement with you Nirali. Suresh’s feedback was also in the same lines. The idea going forward is to compile all my work into a single piece that makes it more universal in its narration…whether I succeed is another story :)

    No – stop being sooo modest and tell us your learnings from the group show. Did you feel that a group show of people selected by a curator makes more or less sense than what we are attempting? Did you feel that following this track of doing more and more group shows makes sense? What are your thoughts on that gallery space – would you like to exhibit there again? Who were the types of people who came in…what did they have to say to you? etc etc…

  • great success archana!!
    excellent work. very well done. i love the ideas, but i am missing something of the process. i feel that is an important part of the work esp if you are doing performance art.
    yes, i do see you going big – as nirali said. also, i can see you doing site specific performance pieces. have you thought about that?
    with this piece – how much time did you spend in the gallery – i know you mentioned”holing” yourself up. what did that entail?
    overall i think its a great start. i agree also with making the connection universally. thinking big and expanding your horizons. black and white is great. if you want consider adding one colour – otherwise i think for now it works well

  • Hey Pooj – thanks for the feedback. you are right – and I have been a bit of a slacker. The Time-elapse piece hopefully conveys the site-specific ‘performance’ process. I will be uploading that in this report shortly. The painting on the wall took about 8hrs from start to finish. This is what I have documented through the time-elapse piece.
    Im actually not convinced that this ‘performance painting’ is the way to go eventually. It certainly is fun and I enjoyed it a lot, but I don’t quiet see why people would find it interesting you know…

  • Arch, nice to see the documentation of the drawing. Did you have an idea of what you were going to do on the wall or did you get there and decide? was it pre-meditated?
    i think you’re wrong about people not being interested in performance painting. i think it was fascinating to see you draw! i think its the same reason why you would be interested in someone’s thought process. in some performance art – like this, you get to see the artist in action. its very interesting to me. in one sense its more interesting to see the artist in the act of making/creating.

  • Hmmm…perhaps there is a point to performance painting then?

    With this piece there was nothing pre-meditated. I worked very spontaneously. Also the writings of poetry on the wall were created right there. Nothing taken from previous works in that sense. This is what made the experiment so much fun for me. I really looked at the wall as one large sheet of my sketch book…and treated it the same way I would with anything I do in my books.