Zasha Colah

Curatorial Talk

8 March 2019 18:0019:30
ZHdK, Room 5.K07

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Framed by two artist’s parades, the talk will examine how illegality becomes integral to the curatorial, within systems of institutionalised injustice; and a definition of the exhibition’s ‘site’ as the real crossings, fissures, cracks and openings, when normal systems of exchange have been blocked.

I relate how questions of the immaterial dimension of the exhibition site, have haunted my own work, and I relate it to ideas of ‘exhibiting’ as a durational process of research, and openings.

If the exhibition can be metaphoric while architectural, ideal and abstract while occupying space, the talk considers certain instances in my own and other’s curatorial work, and the character of the space of an exhibition, that lends itself to being simultaneously real, and pre-configured to encourage a conceptual, cognitive and imaginary plane of thinking in the viewer.

The instances discussed include a university classroom, which invited an exhibition within which the lessons could unfold, and an exhibition’s artwork, which invited a classroom to hold its lessons within it. I reflect on what it can mean to occupy an exhibition, and how an exhibition may occupy a school. What it has meant for instance, to teach from within an exhibition that keeps changing form because of that teaching. What does it mean to teach from within metaphoric space?

Zasha Colah is an Indian curator and lecturer at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (NABA) Milan. Her work is invested in acts of individual and collective imagination within global art history, through the prisms of illegality, cultural sovereignty (especially in prolonged militarised situations) and cross-cultural transfer. Her art writing turns around such cases in Indo-Burma and the Eastern Himalayas since the late-80s. She co-founded a research collaborative, black rice in Tuensang (2007), and an artist and curatorial union, Clark House Initiative in Mumbai (2010). She co-curated the third edition of the Pune Biennale with Luca Cerizza, ‘Habit-co-Habit. Artistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces’ (2017), and she was part of the curatorial team of the second Yinchuan Biennale, ‘Starting from the Desert. Ecologies on the Edge’ (2018) under the direction of Marco Scotini. She was awarded by the Sir JJ School of Art Mumbai for co-curating with Anant Nikam and Sumesh Sharma, ‘The Workshop Model’, an alternative pedagogic experiment and traveling exhibition through art universities and institutions in India (2011). She teaches comparative curatorial theory within the curatorial course at NABA Milan since 2018. Her curatorial writing has been included in ‘The New Curator’ (Laurence King), ‘The Curatorial Conundrum’ (MIT Press), ‘Curating Under Pressure’ (Goethe Institute/ IFA/ She lives in Italy and India.