“It is a very exciting time to be an arts professional in India. There is a sense of community and sharing as well as a sense of investment in growing something together”.
Latika Gupta is an art-historian and critic based in Delhi. Latika has worked on documentary films and photography projects tracing the history of Indian art and as a curator at the National Gallery of Modern Art and at KHOJ International Artists’ Association. Latika is currently studying towards a PhD in material culture and rituals in the Himalayas.
Latika tells us what it is like to work as an arts professional in India.
I think the opportunities for arts professionals, though having increased in the last few years, are still few and far between. Most work is on commission from private galleries and the opportunities to work with public spaces and museums are negligible. Additionally, professional opportunities are primarily in the contemporary arts sphere. There also continues to be the perception that if you work in the arts, it is akin to philanthropy, so in terms of remuneration, it is somewhat difficult for arts professionals to have a sustainable practice, especially as freelancers.
On the flipside however, given that the arts scene is still growing, it is a very exciting time to be an arts professional in India. There is a sense of community and sharing as well as a sense of investment in growing something together.
With this context in mind, the benefits of finding international opportunities which you can then bring back to your work are very valuable. I was commissioned to curate an exhibition from the permanent collection of the British Council in 2011. ‘Homelands’ toured Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Lahore, Karachi and Colombo between January 2013 and February 2014. For this project, I worked with technical advisors as well as a fantastic team of arts professionals here in India- all of whom I learned a great deal from in terms of ‘best practices’. I also received a three-months research fellowship from CWIT for a project on Himalayan art. It was extremely valuable in terms of the resources I was able to use as well as the academics I worked with. This has informed my current research work as a Phd scholar at the Jawharlal Nehru University, where I am working on material culture and rituals in the Himalayas.
Are you an arts professional in India? What has your experience been like?
Post by: Emer Coyle