ArtO2 Curates Times Celebrate Bandra Festival | 18-28 November 2015

Mumbai has a dialectical relation with the sea. It is at once abundant and scarce, a saviour and curse, an element of purity and contamination. We are engulfed by a bounty of water bodies that find their way into the very structure of the city, but at the same time, much of it cannot be consumed. Against this luxurious, unattainable basic commodity lies the landscape of the city, its growth ferocious and uncontainable. Between these two binaries lies a perpetual tension.

Along that blurred stretch whether land and sea collide, crossover and go their separate ways, we invite contemporary Indian artists and architects to examine this constant state of conflict and negotiation.

From 18-28 November 2015, Suruchi Choksi, Madhu Das, Ratna Gupta, Prashant Jogdand, Nuru Karim, Madhuri Kathe, Pradeep L. Mishra, Prajakta Palav Aher, Raktim Parashar, StudioX, Hema Upadhyay, Tyrell Valladares and Vidya Chitre Vaidya inhabit one of the city’s few lasting yet receding shorelines where they will probe the social, economical, ecological, spiritual implications of the sea. At the same time, the works provoke an engagement with joggers, families, lovers visiting the site and investigate the potentialities of what emerges when we begin to consider the possibility of humans actively participating in dialogues related to the nature of the city and its future.

This initiative is part of the Times Celebrate Bandra Festival promoted by Celebrate Bandra Trust and Fountainhead Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, curated by ArtOxygen.

Artists projects include:

Suruchi Choksi | I am Not Happy | I am Not Unhappy

I am Not Happy | I am Not Unhappy is a shoot-the-balloon stall popularly seen at carnivals. There is something distinct about the balloons – each carry words which form the phrase I – Am – Not – Happy – I – am – Not – Unhappy. Players are invited to test their skill in this game of chance. They mark their target. Shoot the word. The result seals their fate in that moment. Choksi’s interactive piece plays on this basic human search for happiness. The work soon turns into a game that goes awry at the final text that remains which determines one’s state of un/happiness. It thus becomes an introspection into the importance attached to the notion of happiness and how controlled our lives become in our perpetual hunger to attain it.

Ratna Gupta | Forgotten

Ratna Gupta works on trees that are sick, dead or fallen. She has devised a method by which she extracts that DNA of the tree which traces its history and tells the viewer about the life it had. The process of extrapolating an element that is still living – is a way to freeze it in time. Gupta’s work reminds viewers that we are surrounded even more by infospheres with a sharp degradation of our biological / natural ecosystems.

Madhu Das | Untitled

A light installation along the shoreline outlines living spaces in the city exploring issues of temporality. The artist uses a skeletal architectural frame. Its insides are bare. No one resides here. There is no social or cultural reference to a past, present or future. The work invites us to contemplate the momentary nature of our existence.

Prashant Jogand | Me and My Formosa

Me and My Formosa are sculptural formations of snails sneaking out of large rocks across the stretch on promenade. The artist uses natural material like bamboo, twigs to create his sculptures which draw attention to issues related to marine ecology. A snail is one of nature’s most harmless, sensitive and fragile living beings. It reacts instantly to the changes in the environment even if it is a small one. If the water gets contaminated with industrial waste, it moves towards land. And if anything is wrong with the land, it moves towards water. The creature becomes a metaphor and the rock which forms its shell, the land or Formosa it carries on its back.

Nuru Karim | Woven Thread Pavilion

Woven Thread Pavilion is designed by Nuru Karim, Founder NU.DE, a Mumbai-based collaborative design practice operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development. NU.DE’s projects engage with the layered conditions of our contemporary cities by creating an architecture that is experiential and rooted in the context of the site and city. The Pavilion breeds on the principle of biomimetics, using natural systems as a source of inspiration. The weave system is not based on elastic components used in traditional weaving technologies but using rigid thermoformed components to create a structural self standing assembly. The idea is to interlace nature and architecture, enabling the design of hybridized, biological structures. In this process investigating nature is design research. And, the overall aim is to create new architectural species incorporating natural attributes ordered in performance, materials, digital technology and form.

Madhuri Kathe | Cutting Edge Landscape

The installation is a mixed media abstract piece where the viewer is confronted with layers of material that includes wood, cloth, cotton and paint dripping on the canvas. Amidst the cacophony and chaos along the promenade, Kathe’s paintwork calls the subject in, allowing him/her a moment of solitude and tranquility. The artist integrates in the work, various landscapes. The sea, forest, desert and agricultural terrain are experienced through human emotion. The prevalent human-nature conflict needs to be interrogated and redefined based on a more balanced relation.

Pradeep L. Mishra | Motherland

Taken from the artist’s latest body of work Motherland, Pradeep Mishra’s canvases are bleeding. He presents a giant blue whale at Carter Road, formed by soil sediment. Along the centre that depicts the mammal’s rib cage, lie a series of flags, each carrying a bloodied blue whale. Mishra’s works are concerned by the extinction of forests and its natural occupants (both animals and human beings) and tries to consider a balance between our natural and built environments.

Prajakta Palav Aher | Mala

In this performative sculpture, Prajakta Palav Aher incorporates waste material that have accumulated in our city and become part of its environment. Plastic, polythene is transformed into beads tied up with threads to create ‘Mala’. Through this ritualistic gesture and ceremonial process, Aher comments on the hazards prevalent in our cities. Aher’s practice is an interrogation into the mega-city of Mumbai and human tendency to confine ourselves into cocoons where we create representations of the real that we can control.

Rakhtim Parashar | Thinking inside the box

Thinking inside the box is a sculptural installation with 16 gift boxes, coded in red and blue. Inside each lies a label and found article inviting viewers to peep inside and discover the most absurd objects concealed inside the boxes.  By triggering one’s level of surprise, the work stimulates an element of creativity and thinking, often compartmentalized due to confines defined by society or daily pressure and routine.

Hema Upadhyay | Your Consumption Has Increased

Your Consumption Has Increased is an archive of verses that recount nostalgic tales of the city’s former landscape, Hema Upadhyay’s sound narratives send visitors into a time warp. The audience sees a set of binoculars and headphones. Upon peering through the lens and placing on the earphones, viewers see in front, left-over mangroves, boats against the shore. They can turn the lens and peer at the looming skyscrapers. Against this view, what they hear are sound-scapes compiled at various sites across Mumbai. There are narratives on the chaos and turmoil of a rapidly developing city that is slowly losing its glorious charms. The artist invites people to reminisce on the ideas and ideals on which Mumbai was positioned and how that image has been modified with time.

Tyrell Valladares | Industrial Predator

Tyrell Valladares sculpts various predators – sharks, praying mantis combining the very delicate folding of origami with the icy texture of metal surfaces. Along the promenade, a menacing metal shark is suspended overhead. Removed from its natural habitat, the creature is no longer threatening, becoming strangely playful at the same time. The work comments on the nature of industrial predators prowling and taking over our city.

Studio-X Mumbai | Spread the Word

Spread the Word is an ongoing project that questions the nature of the city. The work aims to create a network of diffusing ideas, generating a sense of ownership and instigating change. It takes the form of maps that carry links to the inflows and outflows of water and waste across Bandra which are then integrated with interviews by local residents investigating their knowledge on resources within the city. The maps appear on slate surfaces which invite an interactive participation of visitors/audiences on their imaginations for development in their neighbourhood. The Spread the Word project began in February 2015 as a performative and collaborative piece realized with children from NGO Reality Gives based in Dharavi and executed by StudioX-Mumbai.

Vidya Chitre Vaidya | The Boat of Plenty…. that was

A metal boat reflects the blue sky overhead and the shimmering sea below. The boat is part of the marine ecosystem and very much part of the city’s landscape. It is a common sight on Mumbai’s shores as fishermen go out into the sea for their daily catch that feeds themselves and the rest of the city. Imposed on its surface is a cloth that Vaidya uses to paint fish common to the Mumbai coast. Spectators are invited to paint on it, their participation a metaphor for numerous efforts to save our environment. The cloth is then torched referring to the sudden extinction of much of our marine life. Where have the fish gone? Have we consumed them to the point of their disappearance? By alluding to the dialectical notions of hunger and greed, by presenting a boat that cannot go to sea, the artist provokes us to reflect on our human excesses. The work has been fabricated in collaboration with Vernon Alvares, Set Designer