Artist Riyas Komu talks about keeping art alive in the post-pandemic world.

Simran Dhamija
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Artist Riyas Komu talks about keeping art alive in the post-pandemic world.

The world is facing the coronavirus pandemic, and it has spared no one. Everyone is affected in some way or the other. Many people have lost their full-time jobs, freelancers and artists are unable to find work to sustain themselves. Though many in this lockdown has taken a break and tried their hands on exploring art, the major artist community has faced a lack of support to uplift the art community. Riyas Komu, critically acclaimed multi-media artist, pens down his thoughts emotionally.

Artist Riyas Komu

Keeping art alive in the post - Pandemic world.

'Art in post-COVID Times' has emerged as a phrase to refer to a situation brought about by the breakdown of the viral condition. But as the viral showing unpredictable signs, is it correct to use this term owing to the situation we have been placed in? Aren't we all going to live with pandemics in different forms, given the rupture caused by the human agency to the environment we belong to? The pandemic has stalled all social and economic activity and wreaked havoc on all our lives. Most of the young artists are helpless and devastated, emotionally, and financially as they were before. Only the degree of suffering shows this extreme anguish. It is terrible to write after speaking to many young artists and even seniors that how important that the art world needs to come together with creative ways to build a pressure management method in the wake of the pandemic. It is very important that established artists, galleries, auction houses, collectors, and other institutions support the art community at this time of grave crisis, to build welfare reserve as the existence of these institutions is the result of toiling workers of art themselves. As art is so important an aspect of our social life, it is a time art institutions realize this and share the produced value on the basis of equality. Institutions must give back to artists as they owe it to them. This cannot be a one way street to making money and profit while looking the other way round.


Like most other professional communities, the art community, and its related areas like fabrication, casting is also staring at a bleak future. Galleries and art collectors, the financial mainstay of the art community, have moved to the digital path as they are unable to function in physical form. Since social distancing is the current norm and is likely to be in vogue for some time at least, few galleries have successfully begun online platforms and it is a promise for many who are associated. The crisis has already started affecting art ecosystems in urban and rural areas, and artists as a community are in a precarious position mainly because of the institutions run under govt bodies are not programming any valuable interventions. It is very urgent to extend the support available to artists, who work outside institutions like galleries, museums, and art schools. It is very important to sustain our art ecosystem so that post-COVID we can build a new cultural economy that can also bring in revenues as well as support the artists in need in institutional form. Art is the location where new imaginations and creative interventions are possible and we can rejuvenate the scope of digital interventions through new ways of communication. I am looking forward to art which mindfully looks at the ideas of surveillance and come out with expressions which are going to be a site of knowledge and new aesthetics rather than just a consumerist platform. 

The article is written by Riyas Komu, he is a critically acclaimed multi-media artist, curator, and sculptor invested in reviving art education and developing art infrastructure in India. His body of work is a part of the broader narrative of construction and dismantling of the artistic influences of the society we live in.

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