Tulika Ahuja is one to watch. Last April, the 28-year-old established Mama Magnet, her one-woman art programming consultancy that aims to bring innovative art encounters to the public and “collect an archive of our time”.
Tulika Ahuja (in red) at the opening of A Most Absurd Guide exhibition which she curated at UltraSuperNew Gallery.
Since then, she’s curated multiple shows including the much-buzzed-about Inner Like The OutAR, an immersive audio-visual experience by artists Reza Hasni and Tiong Hong Siah; set designer Tina Fung and electronic producer Intriguant at Singapore Art Week in January.
Hello Tulika, how did the pandemic affect your day-to-day routine?
“The pandemic increased the amount of time spent online significantly. Earlier it used to a lot more physical gatherings and chance encounters. I’ve made changes to segment work and play spaces at home, because I’m mostly home all day. I think I can still be better at separating the two, though.
I think before the pandemic there was a lot that kept me distracted. Now I feel more settled with the idea of routines — like heading to a ceramics studio every Monday for the past year, for example. My relationship with food has changed; food was rarely a highlight in my week. I now find comfort in a good meal with good company, sometimes cooking with friends. I’m also more comfortable with whipping up a meal for myself now.”
How did it change the way you approach curating?
“I curated my first virtual-only exhibition in 2020, Centre for Altered Togetherness with artists Reza Hasni and Tiong Hong Siah. I don’t think we would have adopted this medium of expression if it wasn’t for the pandemic. Curating digitally has made me more aware of visitor experience and attention spans — I think there’s been some shift in my audience awareness.
I think the pandemic has also had a conscious influence on the themes I’ve put out – in the past year I’ve worked with artists to express isolation, absurdities and connection to nature, for example.”
Did you experience any changes in perspectives during this period?
“I really appreciate the one-on-one friendships being socially distant has brought. It’s strangely helped to strengthen connections with friends and some artists turned friends.
Its also widened my idea of productivity – I no longer view productivity as just ticking a few to-do items off my calendar. I realised doing nothing can sometimes be productive too.”
What prompted you to start Mama Magnet?
“I officiated the company in April last year out of my bedroom. It was born out of a desire to bring art experiences to the general public and form my own personal relations with artists. At that time I felt like I was working on too many short-term projects, where once an idea was presented, there wasn’t much room for it to go anywhere after one run. I guess I wanted to try building something more long-term.”
What does Mama Magnet aim to do?
“Create experiential art encounters for an audience that’s curious and open. Collaborate with artists while finding new ways to present art. Collect an archive of our current time.”
Below, Tulika takes us through a typical day in her work week.