Since graduating in September 2014 from MA Fine Art at Chelsea, Radhika Prabhu has had a busy year. She first took part in an art and dance residency programme in the United States, and is now setting up an Art Foundation in her hometown Bangalore. As part of our One Year On interview series, we spoke with Radhika to learn more about her projects and achievements this past year.
It has been one year since you graduated – what have you been up to?
The past year has been quite a diverse platter. I was invited as an artist and dancer in residence at the Oklahoma State University, USA soon after finishing the course. Later I worked part time at a start-up gallery in Bangalore (my hometown) assisting in designing art courses for various age groups and doing commission work while simultaneously working on my personal projects.
To be honest, stepping out of the ‘Institution’ was definitely a tad bit disorienting in the sense that you do not know what to do with so much of unbounded freedom at times; but that space helped me to shut myself in the studio and keep the rigour and the flow of the process going.
The most exciting thing that I am happy to share about is that I will be giving wings to my dream and will be launching my Art Foundation in Bangalore this October. This Foundation is specifically designed for the youth artistic community.
Backed with the kind of exposure that I got to art during my time in London and subsequent travels, and also the support that I am lucky to be getting from various sections, I hope to support and promote Indian contemporary art in the global scene through this new exciting venture.
How has your practice developed since graduating?
Three important things matured for me – I have found a personal interdisciplinary language in performative mixed media installations using my experience in both dance and visual art which I feel is not pretentious.
Secondly, I had had a mind block about using technology with my art before, but now it has opened a great potential to explore further, and I work a lot with making video work and visual movement films.
Lastly, the intensive one year of artistic production reaffirmed my conviction that it was possible to be greedy in art. There is nothing called too much art, there’s always space for more!
Have you taken part in any projects/collaborations/exhibitions over the past year?
I have been quite fortunate with opportunities. I did the residency and a group show at the Northwestern State University in USA. I showed in a couple of group exhibitions in Bangalore and recently was part of the Office Sessions exhibition in Soho in London.
Earlier this year I collaborated with Color Frames Company (Bangalore) for our first visual movement film ‘After’ which is currently in the post production stage. I continue my practice as a Bharatanatyam (South Indian Classical) dancer as well, and just finished a couple of solo performances at Huntingdon, Cardiff, London and Bath.
How did you find the Summer Show experience last year?
The summer show experience was exhilarating and a vital turn in my practice. From zeroing in on the concept, to finding ways of depicting it, it was quite a journey. Since I had started creating mixed media installations with a theatrical quality, it was challenging to choose what materials/mediums I would use without it becoming either over-ambitious or unnecessarily modest. The problem with choices is that you tend to slip into the one that seems the easiest to deal with, and I had to consciously push myself as much as possible into deeper layers.
I remember there was one particular phase when I worked the whole week – Monday morning till Sunday evening, all day, shifting the elements of the space and improvising the relations between the various objects, shuttling between irreplaceable bliss and absolute vexation. But also, it was the spontaneous assessments and the unpremeditated crits I received during this week which were very crucial – they helped me snap out of my saturation point and recognize the little details and hidden corrections. Things which I had been trying to pinpoint and deal with for a long time emerged and made themselves finally known, and it did feel like an ideal culmination of the course.
It is one of the works I am most proud of.
Is there any advice you would like to give to our current or prospective MA Fine Art students?
Treat this one year as a complete investment in yourself – artistically and personally. Do everything that you can and then some more, even if it feels mindless at times. You never know what clicks where, and what materials are waiting to be discovered by you. More than anything, indulge yourself completely in the experience; it will stay with you for a long time!
And also, along with making strong (and right) connections and in the frenzy of getting your work out there, make sure you nourish your internal journeys as well.
For more examples of Radhika’s work, check out her website.
Find out more about our MA Fine Art course