“Autolysis” by Asim Waqif and “The Droste Effect"

presented by Nature Morte

April 19, 2016 - May 28th, 2016

"The Droste Effect" at Independent Régence 2016. Photo: Isabelle Arthuis

Asim Waquif at Independent Régence 2016. Photo: Isabelle Arthuis

Asim Waquif at Independent Régence 2016. Photo: Isabelle Arthuis

"The Droste Effect" at Independent Régence 2016. Photo: Isabelle Arthuis

"The Droste Effect" at Independent Régence 2016. Photo: Isabelle Arthuis

"The Droste Effect" at Independent Régence 2016. Photo: Isabelle Arthuis

Press Release

by Asim Waqif
and "The Droste Effect"
at Independent Régence

Rue de la Régence 67 1000
Brussels, Belgium
Spring 2015

In Gallery One: Autolysis” by Asim Waqif 
On display will be a group of works made by the artist Asim Waqif for an exhibition in New Delhi this past January entitled “Autolysis.” The title refers to the breakdown of plant or animal tissues by enzymes that are present in the tissues themselves; “self-digestion” would be an apt synonym. Waqif has, for many years, fused part of his artistic practice with chemistry, allowing works to be determined through decay, abuse, and the vicissitudes of time, his most recent such engagement with the poetics of detritus being his site-specific installation at the Asia Pacific Triennale 8 at the Queensland Art Gallery of Brisbane, entitled “All we leave behind are the memories,” a monumental assemblage of reclaimed timber from demolition sites around the city, resulting in an interactive electronic and acoustic construction. 

‘I am trying to promote situations and processes of decay and abuse to explore vulnerability and risk,’ says Waqif, who found himself strongly motivated to pursue the ephemeral possibilities of a work of art to subvert the market’s consumptive zeal for permanent or durable objects. ‘While installing a bamboo installation in a garden in Mumbai the art collectors were very concerned about the longevity of the artwork. They said, “We want it to be available to our grand-children,” adding “Can’t you make it out of concrete?”’ explains Waqif, who was appalled by the suggestion, considering the use of bamboo was the premise of his project. ‘I realized over time that the art market was obsessed with the archivability of artworks.’ 

The works constituting “Autolysis” are the consequence of Waqif’s intense three-month long interaction with the historic site adjoining the Qutab Minar in New Delhi, a 200-year-old sarai that has not been used for decades. Located in the archaeological area that was once host to one of the seven ancient cities of Delhi, the exhibition was the result of Waqif’s understanding of and collaboration with its historicity. 

On display will be sculptures and photographic works, which mix both fabricated and organic materials, many of which were collected on the site of the “Autolysis” exhibition in Delhi. Elements are subjected to chemicals, left to decompose, and violently manipulated, mirroring the artist’s subjects of half-demolished architecture and abandoned domestic settings. Thick coats of high- gloss polyurethane arrest any further changes and seal the surfaces of rotten and soiled art works. 

About Asim Waqif 
Asim Waqif (born 1978, Hyderabad) studied architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi, graduating in 2000. After initially working as an art director for film and television, he later started making independent video and documentaries before moving into a dedicated art practice. 

His recent projects have attempted to crossover between architecture, art and design, with a strong contextual reference to contemporary urban planning (or the lack thereof) and the politics of occupying, intervening in, and using public spaces. Some of his projects have developed within abandoned and derelict buildings in the city that act like hidden activity spaces for the marginalized. 

Concerns of ecology and anthropology often weave through his work and he has done extensive research on vernacular systems of ecological management, especially with respect to water, waste and architecture. His artworks often employ manual processes that are deliberately painstaking and laborious while the products themselves are often temporary and sometimes even designed to decay. He has worked in sculpture, site-specific public installation, video, photography, and more recently with large-scale interactive installations that combine traditional and new media technologies. 

Waqif has held solo shows at Nature Morte, New Delhi and Galerie Templon, Paris in 2013, and the Palais Tokyo, Paris in 2012. His works have recently been included in the Asia Pacific Triennal 8 at the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; the Queens Museum, New York; Blain/Southern Gallery, Berlin; the Devi Art Foundation, Gurgaon; and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi. 

In Galleries Two and Three: “The Droste Effect” 
Nature Morte will present a group show on the subject of the continued relevance of the Readymade in artistic practice, this as Duchamp’s “Fountain” reaches its centenary. 

Floating within the abyss (mise en abyme), we find pictures of images increasingly accelerated within a recursive circularity. The Readymade and the appropriated image converge within a space of minimal manipulation, object and image become indistinguishable from one another, and the political economy of the sign defies any critique. Placed between two mirrors (history and commerce?), the art work ricochets on itself, arriving at infinitude, a black hole of mimesis that retains no allegiance to origins. In this heightened state of apprehension we might be approaching something akin to the logic of the Symbolists, who coveted “perceptible surfaces created to represent their esoteric affinities with the primordial ideals.” (Jean Moreas, Symbolist Manifesto, 1886) Not unlike Richard Prince’s “the unreal real of the real thing” which he describes in his book Why I Go to the Movies Alone (Tanam Press, 1983). 

Artists in the exhibition from India will include: Subodh Gupta, Pushpamala N., Thukral & Tagra, Jitish Kallat, Atul Dodiya, Anita Dube, Seher Shah, and Dayanita Singh. To be joined by their international peers including Jacques Villegle, Faig Ahmed, Alain Bublex, Anotonio Santin, and Daniel Dezeuze. 

About Nature Morte 
Founded in New York's East Village in 1982 and closed in 1988, Peter Nagy revived Nature Morte in New Delhi in 1997 as a commercial gallery and a curatorial experiment. Since then, Nature Morte has become synonymous in India with challenging and experimental forms of art; championing conceptual, lens-based, and installation genres and representing a generation of Indian artists who have gone on to international exposure. The gallery has been located in its multi-level space in Neeti Bagh, central south Delhi, since December 2003. In addition, the gallery has maintained multiple branches in various locations: Berlin (2008-2014), Calcutta (BosePacia Kolkata 2006-2009), and at the Oberoi Gurgaon hotel (2011-2014). Formerly partnered with the BosePacia Gallery in New York, in 2013 Aparajita Jain became the co-director of Nature Morte. 

Nature Morte was the first gallery from India to be included in the most important international art fairs (staring with The Armory Show in New York in 2005) and has participated in Art Basel, FIAC Paris, Art Basel Miami Beach, Paris Photo, Art Dubai, Tokyo Art Fair, Art Basel Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi Art Fair, among others. Nature Morte has also organized projects and exhibitions with international artists coming to India and combining their works with those of Indian artists to foster cross-cultural communications. In addition to its own programming, Nature Morte has collaborated with institutions in India such as the British Council, the Alliance Francais, the Sanskriti Foundation, the India International Centre, the India Habitat Centre, Max Mueller Bhavan, the Italian Cultural Center, Khoj International Artists Association, the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, and the National Gallery of Modern Art in both New Delhi and Mumbai. Today, Nature Morte represents such well-known artists as Subodh Gupta, Jitish Kallat, Anita Dube, Mithu Sen, Jagannath Panda, Mona Rai, Pushpamala N., Seher Shah, Thukral & Tagra, Raqs Media Collective, and Asim Waqif, as well as others.