The India Club

Space & Belonging Symposium, University of the Creative Arts, Farnham

Alongside Minna Pöllänen, I discussed the longrunning collective project The India Club, and how we explore the history of place and articulate it through visual work.


Presentation outline:

Minna Pöllänen and Will Jennings are members of the visual art collective Specular Assembly. Their presentation discusses the the site-responsive exhibition at the India Club in London, organised by the collective annually since 2015.

The India Club is an important site of Indo-British history, created by VK Krishna Menon, key figure of Indian independence, as a site for coming together and discussions. The Club exists as an architectural palimpsest of the decades of stories it has borne witness to, whilst staying an active, lived space.

This presentation will outline the collective’s experiences organising the annual exhibition, with examples of some of the projects realised in the space. It will explore the relationship an artist has with non-gallery spaces beyond offering a means to exhibit as “meanwhile”, or as cultural capital for a property owner.

Specular Assembly frequently interrogate the very materiality of the venue itself, a space which has existed through decades while central London continually changes. While there is a romantic notion that sites of special or historic interest remain static while time and place around progresses, this is not the case with The India Club which remains a lived space which does not offer record of an exact historic moment in time, but as a continuation made visible by marks and material. The artists have added to this by adding in their own narratives and objects, leaving their own traces, and by aiding the future of the place as it is threatened with gentrification and transformation into a “boutique hotel”.

Through the trajectory of the collective's project, the presentation discusses the relationship between site-responsive exhibition making, working with existent material and spatial change.