Art Histories Seminar
Do 17 Nov 2016 | 16:00–18:00

Artistic Agency and Pre-modern Indian Sculpture Towards a View ‘from Below’

Sarada Natarajan (Shiv Nadar University, Uttar Pradesh/ Art Histories Fellow 2016/17)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Stone Carvers at Work, Sunga Bharhut, 2nd century BCE, photo: Sarada Natarajan.
Stone Carvers at Work, Sunga Bharhut, 2nd century BCE, photo: Sarada Natarajan.

Sarada Natarajan plans to address one crucial question that was opened up in the course of her doctoral research on the sculptural historiography of pre-modern India.  What would the history of pre-modern Indian sculpture look like if it were rewritten from the point of view of making, of facture? Given the immutable fact that most sculptural practice in pre-modern India was practiced collectively and anonymously, what are the ways of ‘reimagining’ artistic agency into Indian sculptural historiography without compromising the credibility of the historical account? Deploying an array of insights from fields that have not yet touched mainstream art history in India – primarily phenomenology, material culture studies and post-processual archaeology, is one approach that the present project will use to construct a theoretical framework for understanding artistic agency in the Indian context. A systematic exploration of recent developments in the study of agency in the context of medieval European art, where the material circumstances of art production were similar in many respects to the Indian case, will serve to further broaden the base of this theory project.

Sarada Natarajan taught art history and theory at the Fine Arts and Theatre Arts departments of the University of Hyderabad, India for 14 years. She is now Visiting Professor at the Fine Art Department, Shiv Nadar University in Uttar Pradesh. Sarada received her MA and PhD degrees in art history from the Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda. Her areas of academic interest include ancient and medieval Indian sculpture and iconography, art historiography, phenomenology, material culture studies and art history pedagogy.  A trained vocalist, Sarada experiments with music and voice for theatre. She also writes and illustrates for children.

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