CONA exists as a temporal- liminal state in its physicality- it is constantly in a state of flux, thus failing to be an establishment or an institution. It relies on the requirements of the time and the people who belong in it. It questions them in order to understand them, it applies theoretical supplements not to succumb to solutions but rather make inquiries into the process of the problematic. The role of causation in any given system is to generate, and in the process of generation, it leaves behind number of voids that create the incompetency in that system.
It would then make sense to work within these voids rather than rebelling to create another system.
We are not a collective.
We are just individuals who come in and go out free flowingly, as per our needs and availability. There is no binding, no forced commitment. The two founding members have remained constant until now, with the others playing temporal roles. CONA has never expected itself to be in a permanent situation; we would rather want to be like flowing water, not contaminated by stagnation. That is how our programmes evolve too. We have no set rules, no set structure, and we look forward to newer spaces as well. We do not function as an exhibition space either; rather we would want to be distant from being one.
The idea of CONA germinated from the shared studio situation in Borivali (North Bombay), wherein some of artists, designers, and us felt the need to initiate a discourse around each one’s practice. Hence CONA was created, with the aim to create an Adda situation, to dissolve the hierarchies between art and design, to step down from this exclusive position of being ‘artists’ and open up the space for cross pollination. Our aim predominantly was to set up a parallel pedagogical structure for the younger generation. CONA, as the name suggests, is situated at the edge of the city wherein, rather than becoming a ghetto situation, it attempts to become a bridge between the vernacular and the sophisticated- thus highlighting the art district of Mumbai. Since the time of its inception, CONA has been funded by its founder members Hemali Bhuta and Shreyas Karle. We did get some support for residency programmes and workshops through collaborations with various national and international art agencies.
Stepping into its fifth year, we are undergoing certain restructuring processes, which will help support CONA physically, intellectually & monetarily. In addition, we are hoping for more collaborations in the furture.
As one of our artist-in-residency rightly quoted, “As an artist run space, it has the flexibility to keep drifting, keep floating like a small boat... and it could change directions swiftly unlike a big cruise ship, whose course is structured and has very few possibilities of changing.” This kind of fluidity works to our advantage, also the flexibility to join in and walk out, to be the source of inspiration for others to initiate such spaces.
Thus, we have further evolved with certain programming as we have moved into our fifth year.
We are currently working towards setting up
- A classroom program, which will invite learners and mentors from different disciplines.
- A print studio, which will look into all kinds of analogue and semi- analogue printing methodologies- from Letter Press to Risograph.
- Our in-house publication, which will bring forth a critical dialogue within the field of visual arts, and span across other disciplines as well.
- Residencies and workshops that are not restricted to visual arts rather are open to all kinds of practices depending on the curatorial agendas.
- The KATCONA Design Cell, which will help individuals generate income, work at the periphery, and look at other modes of art to disseminate. It is established with a manifesto that will govern the nuances of production.
Our space is as much public as it is private. We consider the initiation of CONA as an intervention that could bring about a slow, gradual and a radical change in the society and the system. This change may not necessarily be seen immediately but will unravel as time goes by. It needs great amount of patience, conviction, and commitment.