January 23 2013
My early morning is
spent with my daughter, Ruhi. Then, after a quick breakfast with my husband,
it’s coffee on the go – a strong home-made southern Indian blend. In the
20-minute car ride to the site where the fair is being built, I have a few
moments to myself. Just nine days to go! As we get to the end of the road I
live on, my phone starts to ring.
As soon as I get there, I sit down with the fair’s VIP relations manager to discuss the additions to the VIP programme, which has grown into a week full of exclusive events and is very popular. This year, Yes Bank – the fair’s title sponsor – is co-hosting the opening party and I’m told we need to accommodate several important collectors. The party, at the end of the VIP preview day of the fair, is a must for all the collectors and VIP guests who fly in.
The India Art Fair office calls to confirm attendance of representatives from Tate Modern, the Guggenheim, MoMA, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA, Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt… over 40 museum representatives so far. This is good news for our participating galleries – who could be the next rising stars of the international art scene? We discuss a series of things on our checklist for the VIP programme. Wine list, check; press passes, check; RSVPs from collectors, check. It’s all looking good. Amin Jaffer of Christie’s (our auction house partner this year) is also bringing a group of 30 or more collectors to Delhi next week for the “India Art Fair Week”, as it is has now been coined. And the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art is set to open a major show the night before the fair's preview.
I reflect for a moment on the past five years, and see how much has changed; India now has a world-class platform to welcome international collectors. We always knew it was possible, and it’s inspiring to see it now happening.
Artist talks are a focus this year. Rashid Rana and William Kentridge are speaking on Friday and Saturday morning in an intimate setting over breakfast and Bellinis. Kentridge is also giving away the Skoda Prize for Indian Contemporary Art at an awards ceremony next Friday. And VIP guests will get to visit the studios of some of the leading contemporary artists who live and work in Delhi. Finally, on Sunday night after the fair closes for 2013, collectors Lekha and Anupam Poddar (co-founders of the Devi Art Foundation) will host the closing party – it’s been a tradition since 2008.
In the meantime, we are in the middle of a construction site. A new coffee machine arrives, and the team is busy deciding on lunch and dinner menus for the day. Our temporary office is a white tent set up on an elevated patch of green looking down on the expanse of the fair, which until a few days ago was just a field. There are people streaming in and out, and there’s a familiar buzz in the air. Headsets are fitted. I have a feeling we’re almost ready.