Reena Saini Kallat, Woven Chronicle (detail), 2015, circuit boards, speakers, electrical wires and fittings, site-specific installation at Vancouver Art Gallery Offsite. Photo: Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery
In February 2015, Saat Saath Arts Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded by philanthropist Aparajita Jain, launches an annual grant that facilitates visionary international curators to visit India. This major initiative has the long-term goal of fostering cultural exchange with India and a deeper understanding of Indian contemporary artists and institutions.
The Saat Saath Curatorial Research Grant bestows international curators with the resources to extend their research into India. Bespoke itineraries designed to fit individual research interests offer curators unprecedented opportunity to be introduced to artists, curators, writers and thinkers in the region, and provide special access to private collections and archives that are not commonly available through traditional channels or researching from abroad.
Each itinerary is formulated with the combined expertise of Saat Saath Arts founder, philanthropist Aparajita Jain, and Diana Campbell Betancourt, Founding Advisor of the Saat Saath Curatorial Research Grant. Jain has worked together with Betancourt since 2010 to coordinate research trips for curators from leading international institutions such as the New Museum, New York; KunsthalleBasel; Pompidou Centre, Paris; and Creative Time, New York.
International curators are selected on an annual basis for demonstrating a forward-thinking approach and engagement with art practices across the world. The uniquely open-ended approach of the Grant encourages curators to contextualise Indian art in the wider geographical context of South Asia, without working with an agenda or toward a specific event or exhibition. By acting as a catalyst for global collaborations, Saat Saath Arts Foundation endeavours to broaden the scope of what can be accomplished locally.
“The Saat Saath Curatorial Research Grant was born from hours of conversation with leading art authorities all over the world, trying to find a solution to increase global understanding and informed exhibitions including Indian contemporary art. Saat Saath Arts is founded to support, complement and highlight the art scene that is already flourishing in India. Given the lack of governmental support, it is the acquired responsibility of private patrons to make a difference, and through Saat Saath I can help build bridges between the West and the East.”
“With the patronage of Aparajita Jain, we wanted to create a program to throw the gates wide open and give curators the resources, logistical support, contacts, and research material to begin their own agenda-free research in the country.”
Aparajita Jain has worked with contemporary Indian artists, curators and collectors for over two decades in her different roles as gallery director, patron, philanthropist, commissioner and collector. As the founder of Saat Saath Arts Foundation, she is dedicated to bringing international museum directors and curators to India to extend their research into India.
Across all areas of her activity, Jain’s objective is to promote Indian contemporary art both within the country and internationally, achieving this through collaborations between international museums, private collections, public institutions and corporate houses. She is an Advisor to the Kochi Biennale, Board Member of Tate’s South Asian Acquisition Committee and a Member of the South Asian Institute Arts Advisory Council Members at Harvard University. Alongside her role at Saat Saath Arts, Jain is co-director of Nature Morte, India’s leading contemporary art gallery, and founding director of Seven Art, a gallery in New Delhi.
Diana Campbell Betancourt is an American curator based in Mumbai and working across South Asia for the last five years, and Founding Advisor for the Saat Saath Curatorial Research Grant. Since 2014, she has held the positions of Chief Curator of the Dhaka Art Summit and Artistic Director of the Samdani Art Foundation in Dhaka, where she runs the exhibition and international exchange programmes, and is building the Samdani Art Foundation collection.
Betancourt's research interests lie in a re-evaluation of cross-cultural encounters in public space, and a re-analysis of what public space might mean. She has collaborated with sculpture parks around the world, contributing to new commissions of Indian art at institutions including Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK; deCordova Sculpture Park, US; and Wånas Konst, Sweden. Betancourt cocurated the Mumbai City Pavilion for the 9th Shanghai Biennale and was a Curatorial Advisor for the 2015 New Museum Triennial in New York. Betancourt is a Henry Moore Institute Fellow for 2015-2016, Curator in Residence at the FRAC Champagne-Ardenne and a research fellow at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum for 2016.
Catherine David (born 1954) is a french art historian,curator and museum director.David was the first woman and the first non-German speaker to curate document in Kassel ,Germany (June 21 - September 28,1997)David is currently deputy director of the National Museum of Modern Art(Musee National d' Art Moderne)at the centre Georges Pompidou.She was born and lives in Paris.
Catherine David is member of the advisory committee constituted by ACE - Saradar Group in order to create and manage a collection of modern and contemporary art that will be on display in a private museum in Beirut
Dieter Roelstraete (1972) was trained as a philosopher at the University of Ghent and currently works as a curator at the Antwerp museum of contemporary art MuHKA. His curatorial projects there include Emotion Pictures; Intertidal, a survey show of contemporary art from Vancouver; The Order of Things; and the collaborative projects Academy: Learning from Art and The Projection Project. His most recent curatorial project, The Thing, is part of a larger series of MuHKA-organized exhibitions titled All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, now on view in the Belgian city of Mechelen. In 2005 he co-curated Honoré d’O: 'The Quest' in the Belgian pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale; he has also organized group shows and monographic exhibitions in Amsterdam, Berlin and Vancouver.
He is an editor of Afterall and FR David as well as a contributing editor to A Prior Magazine. Roelstraete has published extensively on contemporary art and related philosophical issues in numerous catalogues and journals, and is currently preparing a book on the early work of Richard Long, as well as an anthology of his literary writing to be published by ROMA Publications in 2009. He is a tutor at De Appel Curatorial Training Program in Amsterdam and at Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. Dieter Roelstraete lives and works in Berlin and Antwerp.
Dieter Roelstraete has been appointed as the Manilow senior curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (MCA), effective of February 2012. Roelstraete is currently the curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp, Belgium, where he has worked since 2003.
Dieter is a wildly productive and extraordinarily smart curator who has addressed a wide range of art—geographically, generationally, materially—in his writings and exhibitions over the past several years .He brings with him an international network which will extend the MCA´s reach far beyond Chicago—but at the end of the day, he is also a really charming person who we are all very much looking forward to working with.