While the intensity of the shock recedes, the residual effect of the previous year continues to impact us. Many students still remain in their homes in places other than those where their Universities are situated; in towns and villages, several of them with no access to art related facilities or communities.
Yet even at a time when lockdowns and curfews were still in force in November 2020, there was an overwhelming number that responded to the call for entries for the Students’ Biennale. We found ourselves facing a commitment that exceeded a purely curatorial responsibility, one that compelled us to consider the student body in its entirety as opposed to proceeding with an exclusive focus on specific projects.
In addition to facilitating those proposals that were feasible, given the constraints, and organizing several workshops and discussions, it was important to map certain tendencies and mindscapes – most of them inflected with aspects of the pandemic and the disastrous consequences of environmental damage – through a survey of all applications before one could arrive at a selective process. This further brought to light the unevenness at the foundations of our institutional superstructure, and problematized the process of selection: on what basis does one exclude?
The Compendium documents work across institutions, in acknowledgement of the astonishing range of ideas and potential that students possess. Apart from being a simple directory for reference, it is also seen as a document that bears witness to trying times, and creates possibilities for the ideas contained to find advocacy and a way forward.