Standing at a spot within the 14,000 sq ft exhibition circumference, Naman Ahuja introduces its layout as a body wrapped around the viewers. The starting point, ironically, is from the door of “death”. This is where the curator begins his much-acclaimed exhibition, Body in Indian Art, that discusses how the body has been depicted in India through over 300 exhibits, spanning Chola bronzes to Rajput miniatures and contemporary art. He is at the National Museum in Delhi introducing the collection. Curatorial walks aren’t commonplace in India, but Ahuja believes they are essential.
The associate professor of ancient Indian art and architecture at Jawaharlal Nehru University brings together pottery and archival research in his work. A student of pioneering artist-potter Devi Prasad, Ahuja hasn’t practised his art in the last couple of years. Instead, he has pored over his personal archives comprising slides of over 20,000 objects from across India.
“Curating is not just about the physical staging of the exhibition, it is also about researching each exhibit and forming a narrative,” says the former curator of Indian sculpture at the Department of Oriental Antiquities at the British Museum, London, and the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.
Being a co-curator of an exhibition, Divine Presence: Arts of India & the Himalayas, in Barcelona and his work at the British Museum helped him get trained as a curator. As co-curator of Devi Art Foundation’s Where in the World in 2010, he examined the impact of globalisation and economic liberalisation on contemporary art in India, which earned him critical acclaim.
INFORMATION SOURCE: THE INDIAN EXPRESS