An artist with many facets, Bose Krishnamachari likes to tread the roads not taken by many. He establishes his projects as institutions critiquing the conventional institutional setup. Bose is on his way to set up his museum in Kerala, which has a lot to do with his pioneering project Amuseum ‘92. Vrushali Dhage catches up with the artist.


VD: You have had a long time association with books, isn’t it ... 

BK: Yes, I have always been an avid reader. I remember, in childhood itself, I used to get a lot of books written by local as well as international writers. International literature came to us through translations, which were mostly published by the Russian publishers. Those were precious treasure houses that came to us for a cheap price. I read on all topics including art. As an artist I feel there is an obvious need for verbal articulation. One cannot convey wrong ideas about ones works. Later I used books directly into my works, not only as ideas but also as visual forms. 

VD: You seem to take pride in saying that you never like to follow rules especially when it comes to institutions? 

BK: Well I am not against any institution, but it’s just the tepid attitude and the rigid rules of the institutions which are a problem. They somehow mould you to conform to set rules. According to me every individual is like an institution. An artist needs to have an innate killer instinct to learn as much as possible, that spark is necessary, for which there is no need of a formal body.  

VD: The notion of ‘impermanence’ lends a strong character to your work… 

BK: I do believe in the impermanency of knowledge. Everything constantly undergoes transformation. Stagnancy tends to shun growth. Once we freeze things in time they invariably seem to lack life. In both my projects - Amuseum ‘92 and LaVA ‘07, I de-shackled a ‘museum’ and a ‘library’ from their rudimentary, still and monumental status.  Even the ‘Burnt book’ series was like archiving or mummifying books through colour.  

VD: How did these thoughts resonate in Amuseum ‘92

BK:  I have always spent long hours in book stores browsing books. I was fascinated by the books street which was earlier there at Fountain, Mumbai.  It was like knowledge on the floor, to me this absurdity struck as an idea for an installation. I tried to play with the word ‘museum’ by associating it with two diametrically opposite concepts of Aum from the Hindu philosophy and with the term ‘amuse’. Amuseum was housed in Jehangir Art Gallery - a no museum space. Further the project traveled to different cities again hinting at the non sedentary aspect and impermanency in a gallery space. The attempt was to construct an ‘Anti-Monument’, by placing books haywire, basically creating chaos; which in turn depicted the chaotic state of our art institutions.  

VD: And in LaVA? 

BK:  Similar to Amuseum the title for LaVA - Laboratory of Visual Arts acted as mocking note – as – not a quiet library space but a space for experimentation. The show was all about ‘interacting’ than ‘simply observing’. Further to add to the randomness –books on art, architecture, design, literature, films, philosophy, travel, theatre, etc. were not segregated according to any category but were placed arbitrarily.  Therefore everyone had to go hunting and picking books from different shelves.  

VD: LaVA was an exhibition which had a heavy footfall, especially students… 

BK: Our institutions lack many things, one of which is a free environment to work. I guess this project offered that. 

VD: What was your prime concern while materializing LaVA

BK: Prime concern was of course the public. The project was to be worked out at a sociological level; therefore the focus was on the interaction part. I didn’t want people to just take a round in the gallery space and walk out, but to read through books and watch the DVDs, etc.  

VD: You intend to set up a museum in Kerala, don’t you think with this you are contradicting the objective of your earlier two projects? 

BK: NO, it won’t contradict the objective, as the museum will be similar to my earlier projects. It won’t be a one time effort, but will undergo constant transformation.  

VD: So is it a lifelong project for you? 

BK: Yes (as he smiles) 

VD: Why Kerala and not Mumbai? 

BK: Well it’s just a matter of convenience. I have a decently large piece of land which was bought in early ‘07 at Aluva, and the landscape is beautiful. The design for the museum is inspired from Kerala architecture. Nearly an acre of the land will be a dedicated exhibiting space. There is a river nearby and I intend to convert the steps leading to it into an amphitheatre. And I found the place just perfect to start something new.

VD: India lacks museums which exhibit Indian Contemporary Art. Will the museum house only Indian artists? Do you see this museum helping Indian artists to find place in the international scene?

BK: No, I don’t believe in this distinction. Everything can be termed as global and at the same time local, it’s how you perceive it. I have collected works of different artists from India and abroad so these works will surely find their space. I am not burdening it with the objective of promoting Indian art and putting it in the international circuit. I strongly believe that no one can promote anyone; you have to work on your own. 

VD: How do you posit this project of yours? How are you working towards it?

BK: As I mentioned earlier I don’t intend to build an institution.  I want to build an ‘experimental’ space. It will be more like a cultivating space. There will be a large collection of books, DVDs, works of various artists, etc. all of which have been collected over the years, especially when I was traveling. I believe in taking the best from what I see, and I am not following a rigid rule, I am open to modification, and changes will be made as and when needed.  Along with me, the museum will have a panel, - they are people from different countries, whom I feel comfortable to work with, and they will play a crucial role. Apart from the museum at Aluva, I also have an idea of having a ‘moving museum’.

VD: Can you tell us more about the ‘moving museum’ …

BK: Currently I have acquired two huge trucks, in which a scaled down version of the stable museum will be set. These trucks will have the same facilities for keeping books, LCD monitors, DVD players... Again by setting the museum on wheels, the question of accessibility will dissolve.

VD: For a project of this size, you need to have a strong financial spine. Are you taking help from any BIG NAMES or do you see help coming in the near future?

BK: Well, I don’t believe in asking for help. It’s very unfortunate that in India, the capital available is rarely used for philanthropic purposes, only a few do that. People have the capital but no vision. Therefore it’s better to work on your own. Currently I am working with my own funds. If someone wants to work with the same level of enthusiasm and clear intension, they are welcome to join.

VD: The Indian art fraternity is looking forward to the materialization of this project… do you think it will be considered as a milestone…

BK: I have no idea about people’s expectations. Currently I am just working within my capacity.

VD: By when will this project be ready to visit, rather to interact?

BK: It will take at least four more years.


Photo credit : Vrushali Dhage








© Text : The Guild. All rights reserved.