The Courtauld Institute of Art, November 7, 2015

The conference accompanies The Fabric of India exhibition at the V & A Museum. Day 2 at The Courtauld, titled "The Politics of Craft", will discuss the way the textile industry has shaped contemporary art and politics in India. It will take place in two parts, with 30-minute papers in each section. The first session, convened by Dr Jahnavi Phalkey, will focus on textiles and technology. The second part, convened by Professor Deborah Swallow and Zehra Jumabhoy, will tackle the use of textiles in contemporary Indian art. Both will discuss how ‘Indian’ textiles have played a part in defining – and problematising – notions of cultural and national identity. The event will culminate with a panel discussion including all the speakers, followed by a reception.

Organised by Professor Deborah Swallow and Zehra Jumabhoy (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London) in collaboration with Dr Jahnavi Phalkey (King's College London)

Ticket/entry details: £16 (£11 students, Courtauld staff/students)1

SATURDAY, 7 November (DAY 2)

10.30 – 11.00 REGISTRATION. The Courtauld Institute of Art

11.00 – 11.15 Welcome – Professor Deborah Swallow (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

11.15: SESSION I – Contemporary Reinventions: Craft, Cloth and Technology, Chair: Dr Jahnavi Phalkey

11.15 – 11.30:  Introductory remarks: These papers will focus on how contemporary cloth production shapes and draws upon tradition to construct particular versions of culture and economy. The session explores textiles on the Indian subcontinent in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in relation to craft, technology, knowledge and tradition. We want to understand the relationship of these four aspects to each other and how they inform a politics of ‘constructing’ tradition while producing cloth. Hence, this section will explore – through the histories of business and politics – how the story of fabric is invariably enmeshed with science and technology.

11.30 – 12.00 Venu Madhav Govindu (Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru): Khadi as Political Economy: Some Episodes

12.00 – 12.30 Mukti Khaire (Harvard Business School, Cambridge, Massachusetts): Entrepreneurship by Design: The Construction of Meanings and Markets for Craft Goods

12.30 – 13.00 Dr Neelam Raina (School of Art and Design, Middlesex University, London): Title TBA

13.00 – 13.30 Panel Discussion

14.30:  SESSION II – Weaving Identity: Tradition, Tradition…, Chairs: Professor Deborah Swallow and Zehra Jumabhoy

14.30 – 14.45:  Introductory remarks: These papers will focus on how contemporary ‘Indian’ art draws upon textile traditions. It will cover the work of both ‘early’ contemporaries (for e.g., Mrinalini Mukherjee) as well as more recent productions, such as the glittery installations of New York-based Rina Banerjee. It will discuss the way the now defunct Bombay textile industry has become the subject of a number of contemporary art exhibitions. Therefore, this section is not purely concerned with the way India’s textile tradition has ‘inspired’ contemporary artists – it will also address the sometimes problematic (and contradictory) versions of identity that references to textiles reveal in the works analyzed. It will explore, via contemporary art, how the fabrication of fabric is interwoven with the politics of identity.

14.45 – 15.15 Abhay Sardesai (Editor of Art India magazine, Bombay): The City, Interrupted: Between Bombay and Mumbai

15.15 – 15.45 Zehra Jumabhoy (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London): Stitching Selfhood in Contemporary ‘Indian’ Art

15.45 – 16.30 Amrita Jhaveri (London-based collector and gallerist): Mrinalini Mukherjee: The Materialist

17.00 – 18.00 Joint Panel Discussion cum Q & A. Moderated by London-based curator Grant Watson.