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Arts & Giving | Diary of a Somebody

Neha Kirpal – Day 4

Installation day is nigh, but the art fair director still finds time to toast a birthday before the weekend

Neha Kirpal – Day 4

January 25 2013
Neha Kirpal

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

I’m very pleased with the caravan I’ve had kitted out for my three-month-old daughter so she can play and be in comfort on site while I’m busy. That said, I’ve just said goodbye to my husband, who is heading to the Jaipur Literary Festival this weekend. Glenn Lowry, the director of MoMA, is there and heading to us next.

On the way to work this morning I dropped into my favourite bakery to order a welcome hamper for each of my exhibitors, which will include breads and traditional sweets. It reminded me that this time last year I was unaware that I was pregnant, while this year I’m eating carefully – lots of fruit and vegetable curry.

Finally, work has started on the façades of the three main tents of India Art Fair. We wanted the fair to be an experience in itself: something emotive, attractive, thought-provoking and fun. So we’ve been waiting eagerly to see what designer Sumant Jayakrishnan’s idea would be. He told us to expect something organic, mirroring nature, but also contemporary. The end product is a dense but delicate forest of what looks like moving shadows on the floor, a bit of a balancing act between the conceptual and the sensory – fitting for an Indian art fair. Most importantly, it is synthetic and therefore weatherproof, if the rain does come.

On the site, the number of people per square metre is rising. Until yesterday there were about 400 construction workers, and almost 900 vendors are expected when the fair opens – not forgetting the 95 exhibitors who arrive on Sunday. 

Many of our galleries and their artists have arrived; today is the day that their artworks are making their final move into the fair. Many of the pieces will not have been shown in India before and the passion that drives collectors to experience new installations, paintings and photography is therefore growing. A young collector, a globe-trotter with roots in Asia who has been visiting the fair for several years, tells me that there’s a new work from a European gallery he’s got his heart set on. The piece is making its debut at the fair next week and he is excited to see how people in India are going to respond to it.

After lunch we have a meeting in the 300-seater auditorium for the speakers forum. Some new perspectives I'm looking forward to learning about this year come from Mexico, China and the Philippines. Having so many nations under one roof promises an intense dialogue.

Everyone’s upbeat now in the organiser’s tent, and we find a minute to pop open a bottle of champagne to celebrate a colleague’s birthday – the youngest member of our team, who is 21 today.