04 March, 2021

Language Barrier

A study of modernism in Indian art is overdue, but must it be so dense?

Language Barrier
Reading Geeta Kapur's collection of essays on modernism is like charting a difficult course for yourself through the relatively unmapped terrain of cultural practices. You just have to equip yourself.

I armed myself with the Concise Oxford Dictionary. But I did not find the meaning of "decathect", which I assumed was opposed to cathect which is derived from cathexis meaning concentration of energy in one direction. Such words are sprinkled all over.

To be fair the book wishes to communicate with a different level of readers. Clearly, it is aimed at scholars and academics: those with general or some level of specialised interest in cultural studies will find the book tough going given the complexity of language, the abundance of references and allusions. But Kapur has a fine mind and many of her ideas are worth grappling with even if one does not agree with her all the way.

Along with the Preface, where Kapur explains the underlying ideas of this project, the book is divided into three sections. The first section deals with 'Artists and...

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