Since its premiere at Timothy Taylor Gallery in 2016, Kalimpong has toured widely, including in 2017, at Kunsthal Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Si Shang Art Museum (Beijing, China), Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and in 2018 at Browns East, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (Delhi India), and at the Rubin Museum of Art (NYC, USA).
At the Rubin Museum, it was one of three exhibitions featured in the institution's 2018 project, 'A Lost Future'. The exhibition challenged existing histories and speculative futures across cultures and in Bengal—a culturally rich region divided between present-day India and Bangladesh. Shezad Dawood’s work was included alongside two other contemporary artists featured in the exhibition—the Otolith Group, and Matti Braun. Kalimpong has been instrumental to the development of a rich body of contemporary artistic research on this region. Key to the project is the element of storytelling, which in each of its iterations as an exhibition, contributes to and further develops themes of virtuality, modernity, and world-making in ways that are universal as well as interconnected and highly specific to this region.
Kalimpong continues Dawood’s interest in how we experience time, and more specifically how the past continues to echo into the present. The site of Kalimpong – a small town in West Bengal – becomes a bridge between the past and the present. This is achieved through a layering of narratives that link Buddhism, painting, textiles, animation, digital new media and historical and speculative narrative. The exhibition is constructed as a score that is informed by the questioning of the borders between virtual and material reality, and how that border becomes a contemporary expression of the border between figuration and abstraction, and between the Buddhist tradition of nirvana and of samsara (enlightenment and the world). Kalimpong was the site of French explorer and esotericist Alexandra David-Néel’s first meeting with the Dalai Lama (1912), before her legendary journey to Lhasa. Later it was described as a ‘nest of spies’, after the Sino-Soviet split, and in advance of the Sino-Indian war, as various powers competed for resources and influence in Central Asia. Kalimpong also became the base for Texan billionaire Tom Slick’s Yeti expeditions, which may or may not have been covert operations.
While the works are not specific illustrations of these and other stories, they explore a larger imaginary of place, and the echoes and ripples of the various narrative layers that extend from it. The exhibition comprises sculpture, neon, painting, and an immersive virtual reality (VR) work set in Kalimpong, spanning the 1920s and the 1960s to the present day.
Accompanying the exhibition is Kalimpong, a new publication by Dawood, with texts by Barbara Sirieix, Michael Vazquez, Kai Friese, Alex Keefe, Tenzing Barshee and Rosie Thomas.
|Year||23 Feb 2018|
|21 May 2018|
|Web address (URL)||https://rubinmuseum.org/mediacenter/video-a-lost-future|
|Image credit||Image 1: A Lost Future: Shezad Dawood, Installation view at The Rubin Museum, 2018.|
|Image 2: A Lost Future: Shezad Dawood, Installation view at The Rubin Museum, 2018.|
|Image 3: A Lost Future: Shezad Dawood, Installation view at The Rubin Museum, 2018.|
|Image 4: Shezad Dawood, Kalimpong (still), 2016 VR environment © Shezad Dawood. Courtesy Timothy Taylor, London.|
|Image 5: Shezad Dawood, Kalimpong (still), 2016 VR environment © Shezad Dawood. Courtesy Timothy Taylor, London.|
|Image 6: Shezad Dawood, Kalimpong (still), 2016 VR environment © Shezad Dawood. Courtesy Timothy Taylor, London.|