thoughts

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Freemithu 2007-ongoing

KHOJ International Artist’s Association, Delhi, India

Freemithu is an on-going web based interactive project started in early 2007 , challenges and critiques the conventions of art world exchange through institutionalized gifting of “free” artworks in global art market.

Afetr two years of its launching,Freemithu began to take shape as an event, exhibition, and performance, it went beyond the boundaries of on-line space and individual exchanges. It explores areas of trans-national friendship, politics of gifting, free or conceptual exchange, fragile notions of sincerity, generosity, and probes the meaning of a contemporary market-driven art culture.

Initiated in 2007, Free Mithu started as an online invitation extended to friends, acquaintances and strangers. I asked them to send me a letter of love in exchange for a gift of an artwork I would present to them in the future. My intention was to open gaps where genuine intimate interaction could be performed between people around an artwork, away from the market driven culture that was heavily dictating formats of engagement between the artist, artworks and audiences. I was (un)lettered with sweaters, conversations in person over a lemon cake, diaries and much more. The former online format extended to a manifested space, where I performed Free Mithu at KHOJ in Delhi, India in 2009. This one the first of many tangible exhibitions, performances and interactions that have sprung from my engagement with this project.

NOTHING IN LIFE IS FREE

The journey of Free Mithu which continues to soldier on have revealed the complexities and contradiction of the core theme of the project- the gift. A gift denotes an object, where the value is more than its tactile form, the (un)tactile is the source of the actual value. But can an exchange really be free? And if its free, is the intentioned value agreeable between the two parties? This scenario revealed layers of human interactions, relationships, expectations and performance of roles of giver and receiver.

A GIFT IS A GIFT IS A GIFT

Over the last eleven years Freemithu has branched into additional interventions that I have initiated. It is in a constant state of (un)doing and (un)making. Although it continues in its original format where I am still making and sending artworks to those who sent me a letter of love, I am conceptually furthering the intention into new engagements every year. The artworks I give for charity auctions are a gesture to insert free gifts into the market, for the consumption of the buyers. My performances on radical hospitality echo the core philosophy of Free Mithu- offering something valuable and establishing alternative methods of consumption and exchange between people and myself- where the value is above what is apparent at the surface.