Architecture is a complex cultural technology. It is an intersection of economic, technical, scientific, artistic, legal, media, religious, and political interests. In his second solo, Monuments, Mausoleums, Memorials, Modernism, Sahil Naik investigates how the political shapes all other intersections in modern architecture. The exhibition previews on 8th January and will continue to be on view until 25th February 2020 at Experimenter - Hindustan Road.
Naik probes into the understanding and deployment of architecture as political technology which stands in opposition to the school of thought that considers it as autonomous. The Austrian architect Gustav Peichl claimed that there was no such thing as democratic or fascist architecture, but only good or bad. It is indeed, at times difficult to link form to ideology, yet as it is apparent today, that just as there was an architectural modernism inspired by socialist ideology, such as in the Soviet Union or in Germany’s Weimar Republic or Nehruvian Modernity in India, there is also a version that was inspired by fascism, such as in Italy. For Naik, the current moment of dystopia and violence we find ourselves in South Asia, specifically the Indian subcontinent, is akin to that time a century ago in North America. He is interested in these opposing intersections and explores architecture, its ambivalence between form and ideology, and the resurgence of the political right that uses architecture as a tool to further its ideologies, through his sculptures and works on paper.
Naik captures a moment where history seems to be repeating itself though architecture (amongst other devices) as a tool for erasure as well as establishment. As modernism finds itself at yet another crucial juncture, especially in the times we occupy in South Asia, with the rise of the right wing, and a new history being written for the Indian nation state, the exhibition poses crucial questions. It attempts to find ways to reconcile, preserve, perhaps digitize, reproduce or secure these histories for the future in the backdrop of clear indications towards an erasure of the legacies of the pre-colonial, colonial, Nehruvian and non-aligned ideologies through the demolition or "modernization" of several “unstable”, “irreparable” or “unusable” structures. Critical ideas about modernity and architecture as a form of history-making are confronted in the exhibition through sculptural installations, works on paper and architectural facades in Naik’s body of works on view in the exhibition.