Modernism(s) in Kumar: Tracing a debate on Modern Art from the 1960s through translation

On the role of translation as a research method that has allowed the resurfacing of a provocative debate in a multi-dimensional space 

This talk will be anchored around the provocative debate about Modern Art that unfolded within the pages of Kumar, a Gujarati literary periodical published from Ahmedabad in the 1960s. The debate takes place between a writer, an artist-teacher and the readers of Kumar, with the editor playing the role of moderator from time to time. 

The purpose of re-visiting this part of print history is to complicate the idea of regional modernism’ by proposing vernacular modernisms’, where the English-centric discourse on Modern Art gets critiqued, laughed at, explained, compared with (other art forms) in the Gujarati language, while drawing references from history of art, music, journalism, linguistics, etc. 

As a researcher and translator of this debate, Vasvi Oza would shed light on the role of translation as a research method that has allowed the resurfacing of this debate in a multi-dimensional space (jaded with footnotes, archival image references, and more) where certain Gujarati vocabulary about Modern Art has informed the English-translation, and the English discourse around Modern Art by extension.

About the speaker

Vasvi Oza is an artist, researcher and art educator from Gujarat. She has pursued her Bachelor of Visual Arts (BVA) and Master of Visual Arts (MVA) in Painting from Faculty of Fine Arts, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (MSU), Vadodara, and PhD in Visual Culture from English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad. 

Her research and practice fields include illustrations, translation, vernacular print cultures, and history of art education. She has been researching the archive of Kumar periodical for the past ten years now. 

Her translation project on the debate on modern art in Kumar was published in 2022 by Reliable Copy (a Bengaluru-based artist publishing house) with the title Modernism/​Murderism: The Modern Art Debate in Kumar.