The Sacred Everyday: Embracing the Risk of Difference

This exhibition project for the Serendipity Arts Festival 2018 will be developed around the proposition of ‘the sacred everyday’ – the interrelationship between the domain of the divine, iconic, cosmic and sublime on the one hand, and the realm of the human, intimate, domestic and quotidian on the other. This interrelationship is articulated through ritual and festivity, vernacular translations, and the interplay of the sacred and the profane – which, in Indian culture, are not stark opposites, but two dynamic and interactive poles on a sliding spectrum of possibilities.

This model allows for the articulation of numerous local cultural realities, and for the celebration of the unique practices that they have generated and nurtured – whether the transgressive popular iconographies of Kalighat and the ‘art studios’ of 19th-century Calcutta, with their cheeky reinterpretations of Hindu mythology; or the luminous sanctity of the Indo-Lusitanian Catholic sacred art of Goa, which is not reducible to any European or Indian ‘originals’ but marks a particular and distinctive form of religious imagination. Translation, transmutation, and transfiguration are all vibrantly at work in these historical situations.`

One of the key commitments of The Sacred Everyday will be to blur the constraining and unproductive distinctions that separate the ‘ancient’, ‘mediaeval’, ‘modern’, ‘contemporary’, ‘urban’, ‘folk’ and so forth – these academic conveniences have come to dictate our way of looking at cultural production, and cultural producers, in ways that are profoundly damaging and destructive both of aesthetic experience and political engagement.

Photography Credits: Keith Gretton, Swaraj Art Archive