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Curator Diana Campbell came to in India in 2010. In Hyderabad, she was entrusted with the job of creating a sculpture park on a tract of land close to the Hyderabad workshop. Her first step towards building this park was to send young artists to residencies at places like the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the UK.

She is the founder of Creative India Foundation, an umbrella organization set up in 2010 to develop the sculpture park. Soon Campbell became a kind of patron for young artists in India, sending them to various residencies across the world.

She became consultant to collectors and later, head curator of the Dhaka Art Summit. She is currently in France at a residency. Edited excerpts from an email interview:

How and why did Creative India send artists to residencies?

There are no outdoor sculpture parks in India of international standards, so I found it necessary to create opportunities for artists to think about this sort of work and engage with international practices—which residencies facilitated.

What was the idea behind the sculpture park and which residencies were the artists sent to?

We’ve collaborated with sculpture parks like Wanas (Sweden), Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and deCordova (US) to fund them to commission and exhibit Indian artists. Srinivasa Prasad was at Wanas, Hemali Bhuta was at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Rathin Barman was at deCordova. We also bring sculpture park curators to India to see our site, and the first American artist we invited to the site was David Brooks. We also funded Shilpa Gupta’s I Live Under Your Sky Too in Mumbai, but that was not a residency.

We’ve funded a ton of residencies—we’ve supported Asim Waqif heavily, including a residency at Skowhegan (US), Baptist Coelho at Delfina Foundation (UK), Sahej Rahal at Gasworks (UK), Arunkumar H.G. at Art Omi (US), Ritesh Meshram at Gasworks, among others. We also funded the Sandarbh residency programme for a year.

What can artists gain from residencies beyond the space, resources if any, and interaction with other artists? Can artists benefit in terms of sale, collectors’ attention?

Sale, collectors and market should not be factors applied to residencies or what people expect from them. Residencies are like schools—they give you a network and foster ideas, but without hard work and applying yourself, it will just be a mark on your CV.

I’m not very interested in supporting residencies any more because I see how artists and galleries can misuse a residency to be a way to create a body of work without paying for production and using the residency as a stamp of approval for collectors. I’m now looking at more experimental forms of residencies that are not production-based or that look at production in new ways, like Hemali Bhuta’s residency at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where the sculpture she produced was completely separate from the residency she had there.

In India art residencies are mushrooming. How is this trend going to affect the art world?

I hope that the new residencies are actually residencies and not ways to collect artworks. Proper residencies do not keep works in exchange for what they offer. They have solid selection committees to make sure that the interactions are the most valuable possible, and not self-serving or disguised ways to boost an artist’s market. The Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation is doing amazing work with residencies in India.

What is the status of the sculpture park in Hyderabad?

Since Telangana happened I have no idea when the park will realize since the political situation has changed from when I started on this project four years ago.

I’m now the artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation in Bangladesh and while I’m committed to getting the creative India sculpture park installed, given the success of the Dhaka Art Summit and commitment of the Samdanis, I’m focusing my energy on Bangladesh and developing a sculpture park there in Sylhet—a long-term project—while the Hyderabad situation becomes clearer.

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