The Past is Present

10 October - 21 December 2019

Featuring works by Sri Ananda Acharya, Kari Christensen, Devayani Krishna, 
Kanwal Krishna, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam and Rune Schytte


Curated by Marianne Hultman


The Past is Present is a montage where historical and contemporary narratives interconnect within the exhibition space. Personal narratives are placed next to one another creating a storyline. The result is a visual montage where a compilation of different works and places speak to and through each other, the Himalayas being a mutual ground in all narratives.


While on his way to the Himalayas, philosophy professor, yogi and poet Sri Ananda Acharya (1881-1945) experienced a great revelation urging him to travel to Europe to declare the message of peace and friendship. He started his journey in 1912 ending it in Norway in 1914 where he stayed for the rest of his life. Documentarist Rune Schytte (b.1970) is currently working on a documentary on Sir Ananda Acharya’s visions for peace that took shape in Norway a century ago.


Kanwal Krishna (1910-1993) was one of the first artists to document life in Tibet. He participated in several expeditions, the most famous being the one, recording the enthronement ceremonies of the 14th Dalai Lama in Lhasa in 1940. His wife, the artist Devayani Krishna (1910-2000) traveled extensively in the Himalayas together with her husband. Kanwal Krishna spent nine months in Norway between 1951-1952. His most memorable journeys being those to the Northern parts of the country. While he was in Norway, Devayani Krishna spent time documenting people and their daily life in Sikkim.


The narrative of ceramicist Kari Christensen (1938-1997) and architect Knud Larsen (b. 1939) overlap with the Krishna family. Larsen was introduced to them in New Delhi in 1986. The following year Christensen and Larsen set off on their first of many journeys to Tibet.


Their narrative also connects to Sri Ananda Ananda’s 1919 vision of establishing an international University of Peace on Mount Tron in Alvdal, Norway – reintroduced by Swami Paramananda. Knud Larsen made sketches for the university based on authorized descriptions by Swami Paramananda. The building process has not yet started.


Indian-Tibetan filmmakers Ritu Sarin (b. 1959) and Tenzing Sonam (b. 1959) have been shedding light on the histories of the Tibetan region in many of their films. Their intimate involvement with the subject has resulted in documentaries, feature films and art installations.


Montage is a term used in film, art, and literature to describe the editing process when shots, images, or narratives that don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other are placed next to one another creating a storyline. In this context, the greater narrative is created by the connection between the independent works and objects on display.


The Past is Present at the Mumbai Art Room is a first step towards a larger exhibition on Tibetan-Norwegian cultural exchange planned for 2021. It will be presented at Oslo Kunstforening and Trondheim Art Museum.


This Curatorial Lab and exhibition has been supported by OCA - Office for Contemporary Art Norway and RRO


A special thanks to Knud Larsen, Mridula Vichitra, Ashish Krishna, Akrant Vichitra, Aseem Sharma, Bjørn Pettersen, Helge Mathinussen, Martin White, DAG Gallery.


Marianne Hultman


Marianne Hultman is a curator and the artistic and general director of Oslo Kunstforening (OK). She has over 20 years of experience in the art world and almost 13 of management experience. With studies in art history, experiences in mediation from art museums and contemporary art centers, and curatorial studies, Hultman has initiated and produced a large number of exhibitions, exchanges and collaborations of different types locally, nationally and internationally. For the past five years, Hultman has in addition worked in the political field through Kunsthallene i Norge Norway, a national network of contemporary art centers. She is part of a working group working to establish a European network for contemporary art centers. The goal is to achieve better exhibition conditions for artists on a European and gradually global level, and to draw attention to the small and medium-sized contemporary art institutions and their cultural contribution to society. Since 2018, Marianne Hultman has chaired Sweden’s Culture Council's reference group for exhibition organizers. In the same year, she was also one out of the five guest curators at Dakar Biennale in Senegal.