Founded by Priyanka Raja and Prateek Raja in 2009, Experimenter is an art gallery and incubator in Kolkata that aims to challenge contemporary art practice in India. Along with holding art exhibitions, it facilitates workshops, performances, talks, curatorial programs and artist funds, and runs its own publishing wing. This multidisciplinary approach has made the gallery a centre for knowledge production, discourse and debate across genres of contemporary art in Kolkata and beyond. Experimenter has three galleries — the first located on Hindusthan Road, within the courtyard of a renovated building from the 1930s; the second in Ballygunge Place, which was acquired in 2018 and is spread across two floors and five thousand square feet; and a third space located in Colaba, Mumbai, in a restored building from the 1890s, which was established in 2022.
One of Experimenter’s flagship programs is the Experimenter Curators’ Hub (previously known as the Young Curators’ Hub) — an annual conference that was launched in 2010 and has evolved into one of the gallery’s core artistic outreach initiatives. The hub encourages discussions on issues of contemporary art, exhibition-making and curation by inviting curators, artists and scholars to participate in the conference. Attendees have included Anita Dube, Shaina Anand, Lydia Yee, Zoe Butt and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung.
In 2016, the gallery launched Experimenter Books, a publishing wing focused on artist books, monographs and book objects that aim to break away from traditional mediums of publishing by experimenting with unconventional formats and introducing an interdisciplinary, political and socio-economic focus to art. Some of the gallery’s publications include Now They Wander Together (2019) by Prabhakar Pachpute, Art & Life: 21 Essays (2018) by Aveek Sen, Form Studies (2017) by Ayesha Sultana and I Love You (2016) by Bani Abidi. In 2018, the gallery launched the Experimenter Learning Program, a yearlong educational program aimed at developing the gallery into an active space of learning by fostering critical discourse in the contemporary and performing arts, writing, film and curatorship. The following year, the gallery launched the Experimenter Outpost initiative, which aims to move exhibitions beyond the physical space of the gallery and restore and revive spaces in Kolkata through temporary exhibitions.
Experimenter has also developed a variety of initiatives that aim to foster community engagement, learning and collaboration under the umbrella of Experimenter Labs, an online incubator and artistic platform. As part of this, they launched the Generator Co-operative Art Production Fund in 2020 to help artists who are currently not represented by Experimenter develop their projects through micro-bursaries. Along with this, the gallery developed the Black Box online platform to showcase interdisciplinary projects across the visual arts, theatre, dance and music; the Filament online film and video programming platform to facilitate online exchange with filmmakers and artists; the Deep Dive Series, a collection of conversations with curators, writers, gallerists and other artists; and the Experimenter Radio program with curated playlists comprising music and podcasts that act as a source of inspiration and reflection for artists.
The gallery has represented a number of Indian and international artists, including Sohrab Hura, Bani Abidi, Prabhakar Pachpute, Naeem Mohaiemen, Praneet Soi, Moyra Davey and artist groups such as CAMP and the Raqs Media Collective. The gallery has also participated in numerous international art fairs such as the India Art Fair, New Delhi; Frieze, New York; Art Dubai; FIAC, Paris; and Art Basel, Hong Kong and Basel.
Art Basel. “Meet the Power Couple behind Kolkata’s Experimenter Gallery,” 2020. https://www.artbasel.com/stories/meet-the-gallerists-experimenter.
Bailey, Stephanie. “Prateek and Priyanka Raja: Gallery as Incubator.” Ocula, 2020. https://ocula.com/magazine/conversations/prateek-and-priyanka-raja-experimenter/.
Experimenter. “Experimenter Gallery.” Accessed September 19, 2020. https://experimenter.in/.
Khanna, Jasreen Mayal. “Kolkata: Experimenter Art Gallery Hosted the 9th Edition of Its Experimenter Curators’ Hub.” Architectural Digest India, 2019. https://www.architecturaldigest.in/content/kolkata-experimenter-art-gallery-hosts-9th-edition/.
Ocula. “Experimenter.” Accessed September 19, 2020. https://ocula.com/art-galleries/experimenter/.