This lecture is based on Adajania’s ongoing research into the lost histories of transcultural initiatives launched during the Cold War era. She argues that the first few editions of Triennale India (inaugurated in New Delhi in 1968) were the manifestation of a confident globalism from the South and even a globalism before globalisation. Initiated by the visionary novelist, editor and art critic Mulk Raj Anand, Triennale India consciously articulated the Nehruvian internationalist vision of non-alignment that sought solidarity among Asian, African and Latin American countries, marking a ‘third position’ in Cold War politics. However, as she will demonstrate in her lecture, the triennale was from the very beginning mired in misunderstandings. First, it became trapped in a fruitless contention between rival narratives of the concept of internationalism. Second, it fell victim to a struggle over the scarce resources of State patronage, as represented by the Lalit Kala Akademi, the organizing body of the triennale, which was to become increasingly intransigent and bureaucratic during the 1970s and 1980s. Even as Adajania has produced a context-specific regional history of this initiative, she found it necessary to critically evaluate its connections with other transformative histories within global biennale culture, such as those of the 1968 Venice Biennale (also called the ‘police biennale’) and the 1st Sao Paulo Biennale (1951), credited with having broken the Euro-American hegemony, but in fact arguably acting as an extension of it. Triennale India rarely finds mention in the thriving biennale discourse, and her attempt is to refocus attention on it as a pioneering, visionary project that came much before its time.
Admission free and open to all.