From Documentary Photography

Towards a Committed Photography:

Notes on Politics of Photographic Representation

A zoom talk by award-winning documentary photographer, Steve Cagan 

Vasl Artists’ Association invited interested participants to join a Zoom talk with award-winning documentary photographer, Steve Cagan.

The Lecture ‘From Documentary Photography Towards a Committed Photography: Notes on the Politics of Photographic Representation’ focused on how photography has a great power in convincing one that it is telling the truth. In this session, we looked at some challenges, such as social and ethical obligations imposed by the very strength of the medium on photographers who want to document social conditions and contribute to compaigns for change, especially while communicating across cultural borders. 

About Steve:

Steve Cagan has carried out major projects in Latin America and industrial towns in USA over extended periods of time. His work explores strength and dignity in everyday struggles of grassroot people.

Steve has been a professor at Rutgers University, New Jersey; Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, USA; Universidad de El Salvador and Fachhochschule Bielefeld, Germany and is frequent speaker at national and international universities and institutions. His book, This Promise Land, El Salvador, won the 1991 Book of the Year Award of Association for Humanist Sociology. His latest book, with artist Mary Kelsey, appears in two versions, The Prince of Gold in English, and El Percio der Oro in Spanish.

Modes of Curation:

Vasl Online Lecture Series

sponsored by APPNA Institution of Innovation and Research – AIIR

supported by Aicon Contemporary

with Natasha Ginwala, Tarun Nagesh, Ryan Inouye, Alexie Glass-Kantor & Girish Shahane

Artists and curators have historically given public articulation to dissent and social causes and offer a transcendent refuge in times of crisis. 

Vasl Artists’ Association hosted a series of online lectures on art curation that aim to generate imaginative discussions on cultural possibilities and the role of curator in todays milieu. 

Vasl invited five distinguished international curators who spoke on the themes of assimilating and disseminating uncharted ways of conceptualizing art practices.  

Insistent Presences

with Natasha Ginwala

sponsored by AIIR

supported by Aicon Contemporary

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

‘Insistent Presences’, Ginwala presented a series of slides which showed art works which were displayed at exhibitions in various parts of the world.  Ginwala discusses her beliefs regarding the tasks of curators and how curators should listen deeply to what has been simmering beneath and amongst us in the art world. During recent, trying times Ginwala discusses how people are the infrastructure to mobilised cultures. She mentions artists composing the ‘Insistent Presences’ which enables plural visions, scores and maps that allow readings beyond individualist and censored relations to the disjointed present. Ginwala articulates the lack of museums and collection-based institutions, where culture organisations are chorus to their circumstances and how more relevant organisations transform with changing times.


Dr. Furqaan Ahmed, Natasha Malik, Rahul Gudipudi, Saira Danish Ahmed, Seher Naveed, Sehrish Mustafa, Shaheen Jaffrani, Sophia Balagamwala, Veera Rustomji, Zahabia Khozema & Zena Khan.

Shifting Contexts for Asian & Pacific Art:

From Field to Institution

with Tarun Nagesh

sponsored by AIIR

supported by Aicon Contemporary

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Tarun Nagesh, curator at Asian Art at the Queensland Art Gallery was Modes of Curation’s second guest lecturer. His online lecture, ‘Shifting Contexts for Asian & Pacific Art: From Field to Institution’ discussed various topics such as the formulation of the Asia-Pacific Triennial (APT) which began in 1993 as a series for 3 exhibitions. The Asia-Pacific Triennial was initiated into order to make cultural and artistic links with the Asia-Pacific region. Nagesh mentions history and colonisation, how it brought strong feelings or links to the western world. This was a major shift in pushing economic, business and cultural policies. He brings up how APT’s shows are political in a sense where artists are presenting works that represent political issues. These artists give the opportunity of political contexts and histories to be explored by a diverse audience. In ‘Shifting Contexts for Asian & Pacific Art: From Field to Institution’, Nagesh makes our participants realise the importance of questioning, how artists and curators, in a meaningful way, deal with subjects regarding political sensitivity or trauma in contemporary art exhibitions. 


Ambereen Siddiqui, Dania Shah Khan, Dr. Furqaan Ahmed, Maha Minhaj, Natasha Malik, Rahul Gudipudi, Saira Danish Ahmed, Shaheen Jaffrani, Sophia Balagamwala, Veera Rustomji, Zahabia Khozema & Zena Khan.

What’s Going On?

with Ryan Inouye

sponsored by AIIR

supported by Aicon Contemporary

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Ryan Inouye, Sharjah Art Foundation’s curator held his Zoom lecture, ‘What Going On?” on September 5, 2020. Inouye’s discussion begins with the topic of informality in curatorial spaces. He discusses how there has always been an interest in the role of the informal or informal conversation. Inouye divulges into how there is a need for institutions to make space for more informal works and how these institutions should adapt these informalities as a generative mode of guiding programming in a curatorial aspect. Inouye addresses the question of ‘What’s Going On?’ as the basis of his lecture. He reflects upon the invitation of pondering over the present moment during the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has changed a lot for people, such as the order of the way curators will now have to work, structure exhibitions, how we think, conceptualise and understand ourselves to be in conversation with one another. However, this lecture also delves into the idea that, it can also be said or assumed for some that nothing has changed. The pandemic could have just intensified or accelerated existing inequalities, injustices or structures.


Ambereen Siddiqui, Amna Hashmi, Maha Minhaj, Natasha Malik, Rahul Gudipudi, Saira Danish Ahmed, Seher Naveed, Shaheen Jaffrani, Sophia Balagamwala & Veera Rustomji.

Not One Version

with Alexie Glass-Kantor

sponsored by AIIR

supported by Aicon Contemporary

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Alexie Glass-Kantor is ArtSpace Org’s Executive Director. Kantor’s lecture, ‘Not One Version’ was based on how one can think of various ways of assimilating and dissimilating unchartered ways of thinking about art practices. ‘Not One Version’ is the way in which language or forms of accumulative practice shift and alter the spaces in which one can think about how we name or expand the definition or meaning. She speaks about how in thus particular moment, that different projects carry resonance. She mentions how curators think in adaptive forms about curatorial practice and how through the various roles she holds with ArtSpace as the Executive Director. Kantor discusses how curators are reorienting and rethinking about the space between things in order to be responsive, in terms of curatorial practice towards the conditions and circumstances given the profound unpredictability the curators have found themselves in. 


Dania Shah Khan, Faraz Aamer Khan, Natasha Malik, Rahul Gudipudi, Saba Khan, Saira Danish Ahmed, Salima Hashmi, Shaheen Jaffrani, Sophia Balagamwala, Veera Rustomji & Zena Khan.

The Tyranny of Theory

with Girish Shahane

sponsored by AIIR

supported by Aicon Contemporary

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Tyranny of Theory’ began with the proposition that theory is contemptuous of empirical understanding, providing the example of Walter Benjamin’s idea of the aura of the art object as an illustration. Indian theorists and curators have been receptive to this idea despite their lived experience of seeing mechanical reproductions, specifically prints of Hindu gods and goddesses, being widely worshipped, indicating contrary to Benjamin’s central thesis, such images do not intrinsically lack aura. Girish Shahane discusses the dominant curatorial theory viewed globalisation as merely an extension of colonialism in the 1990s. The reaction to globalisation led to a valorisation of the local, which opened the door to a celebration of irrational belief systems. The anti-rational trend of contemporary curatorial theory is not without costs in the real world. An example is the case of South Africa during the AIDS crisis, when President Thabo Mbeki rejected antiretroviral drugs as products of neo-imperialist pharmaceutical companies, leading to an estimated Indian artists and curators aiming at an international audience have absorbed these attitudes and ideas. Since curatorial theory is preoccupied with issues that have global resonance, this loose group, while thinking of itself as deeply political, is perceived by knowledgeable observers as being disengaged from the most pressing national political issues, which their colleagues in theatre, cinema, literature and other art forms have addressed.


Dania Shah Khan, Maha Minhaj, Natasha Malik, Rahul Gudipudi, Saira Danish Ahmed, Salima Hashmi, Shaheen Jaffrani, Sophia Balagamwala, Veera Rustomji, Zahabia Khozema & Zena Khan.