The Delhi Contemporary Art Week (DCAW) 2022 has been showcasing a large number of artworks by diverse artists selected by 7 eminent art galleries of the city. While the exhibiting space of the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) at the Bikaner House has been used in an interesting manner. But what is equally interesting is that the 7 galleries chose to allocate a separate building, the \’Old Building\’ at the complex, to a group show with a selection of artists from all of them. This show has been curated by the art writer-critic Meera Menezes.
Upon entering the Old Building, the viewer is greeted with a standee with big bold letters in red, \’LEGAL ALIEN\’ — the title and theme for this show. Sprawled on top are the names of the various artists, young and old, selected in this show.
When I asked Meera why she had chosen to curate around the theme of alienation, she told me, \”It\’s a topic that has been engaging me for some years now and was brought home forcefully to me during the pandemic and the isolation and Alienation we experienced.\”
While the title sounds (and looks) heavy, I learned that it has been borrowed from the refrain of the popular song \’Englishman in New York\’ by Sting – \’I\’m an alien / I\’m a legal alien…\’. This borrowing is fitting though, as the artworks display the theme of alienation in everyday lives, as portrayed by its artists in myriad forms.
In the handbook accompanying the show, accessible through a scan code displayed on a wall, one learns that the curator has subdivided the theme into 4 categories: 1) \’Isolation\’, concerned with loneliness; \’Migration\’, dealing the othering faced by migrants; \’Alien-Nation\’, with a focus on displacement caused due to political and socio-economic causes; and \’Desolation\’, highlighting the exploitation of resources due to a corruption-laden path to \”development\”. It is impressive that the curator has managed to locate the outsider and the other across varying scales of self — from the intimately personal to the expansively sociopolitical.
\’Legal Alien\’, curated by Meera Menezes, is on show till 7th September, 2022, at the Old Building in Bikaner House, New Delhi. It is part of Delhi Contemporary Art Week 2022. Bikaner House closes for public at 6 pm.