Text by Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena
Mumbai – a city of countless goals – evokes robust feelings from those who reside in it, and even from those that drop by for a go to. Being a staunch Mumbaikar – having been born, brought up and bred in this metro, I have an umbilical reference to the town that I name house. It is no marvel then that I was drawn to the exhibition Shifting Metropolis, a undertaking by Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, in collaboration with the Structure Foundation. It is curated by Kaiwan Mehta, theorist and critic within the fields of visual tradition, architecture and metropolis studies.
It’s well-known that folks flock to Mumbai from across the country in the hope of ‘making it’ – and because the curatorial word says, “within the larger cycle of economic and social well-being”. When one reaches Mumbai and begins to reside here – one gets the sensation of being a part of a world system of objects and areas, as one begins to reside in this machinery of material and financial exchanges. There’s a clear corporeal and concrete production of this ‘arrived’ sense. And it’s these geographies of ‘arrival’ which are established by way of a curated range of specific spatial narratives.
Curated by Mehta, the Mumbai Pavilion has new works specially created for Shifting Metropolis by visible artist and designer Sameer Kulavoor, author and journalist Rachel Lopez, and photographer and journalist Ritesh Uttamchandani. The exhibition also showcases present works by veteran artist Sudhir Patwardhan, and photographers Pallon Daruwala and Peter Bialobreszki.
A number of days ago, in sync with the continued exhibition, a panel dialogue with Mehta, the curator of Shifting Metropolis, who delivered a lecture titled Walking, Seeing, Amassing and three of the collaborating artists – Lopez, Kulavoor and Uttamchandani passed off at Library MMB, one flight above the gallery. The four panellists discussed their ‘forms and mediums of discovering and documenting, chronicling and producing anew their cities within Bombay-Mumbai-Bambai’. We later work together with them; exploring their particular person perceptions of the town and how they engaged with the metropolis they call house.
KAIWAN MEHTA, CURATOR, SHIFTING CITY
The significance of the title
The exhibitions maps two ‘shifts’ – one, it tries to blur the variations between the ‘old city’, the central ‘industrial city’ and northern suburbs – and sees the geography of Mumbai Metropolitan as one story with altering chords over specific historical occasions – so the research of Mumbai can not be nostalgia for South Bombay and Newness or Alien-ness for North Bombay…unproductive binaries!
Secondly, it has been my thesis via my doctoral research vis-a-vis the changing nature of ‘urbanity’ itself – which suggests our imagination and definition of ‘city’ is present process a change and ‘shift’, so the nature of areas that form and make a metropolis are shifting grounds, scales, in addition to ideas.
The vision for Shifting City
This is an City History exhibition and never an artwork exhibition – however the strategy of Urban History that I employ is that of partaking with artists/artworks and representations of quite a lot of varieties – artists, illustrators, photo-journalists, architectural photographers, journalists, photographers – all of who interact with their mediums as chroniclers in addition to artists in their own proper. All six of them of their everyday work employ the inventive to subconsciously or subtly or typically more consciously touch upon the town of their motion and their work, Mumbai in this case; their perceptions as journalists or artists, as each concurrently produce layers of readings a few metropolis changing in several registers. The exhibition makes an attempt to seize these registers of change and make an City Historical narrative.
Amongst all the artists, Sudhir Patwardhan is probably the most senior with an extended career as an artist who has intently thought concerning the city via his inventive works; and Peter Bialobrszeski and more lately Sameer Kulavoor, are full-time artists, partaking with numerous elements of the modern world and its politics, as well as problems with urbanity. The others combine totally different sorts of professional engagements with inventive enquiry. These biographies of the artists, in addition to the profession of their very own works, have been essential.
It was also important to place these artworks in conversations – the carpet of over a 100 photographs from Ritesh Uttamchandani bracketed between the massive pictures of the aerial perspective from Pallon Daruwala, or comparing the distances or perspective of city panorama as shot by Daruwala and Bialobrszeski, or the characters drawn in a Patwardhan mural and the documentary diaristic drawings of characters in the Kulavoor ‘crowds’, or the characters in Lopez’ essays meeting the individuals in Uttamchandani’s photographs or Kulavoor’s sketches….
All this is then grounded in a extra technical research of the town – historical past of housing varieties, the panorama of bodily fabrics within which all the characters and details breed; and the skilled tools of documentation now in conversation with the inventive representations.
How one engages with a city
You live it, you read it very intently… but you and the town by no means grow to be one…you’re all the time someone shifting by way of the town. As much as all cities are characteristically their own selves, readings and experiences between cities help a eager observer study from one metropolis and take that have to another, and so forth and so forth – a set of relays and reflections…
To ‘live a city’ it takes loads of power and emotion out of you, you learn city biographies to solely understand and study from the experience of others who have travelled the same path…preventing and loving the town to realize it without being subsumed or repelled out, and with out being lost in it like one in every of its denizens. It’s a must to maintain your conscience tightly to get into the conscience and flesh of the town. You need to grasp the ‘mental life of the metropolis’ and skim its ‘flesh and stone’.
RACHEL LOPEZ, WRITER AND JOURNALIST
The significance of Shifting Metropolis
It was a privilege to be given a platform and so much leeway to assume aloud concerning the metropolis. So many people are trapped in a binary: can we love Mumbai or hate it? We seldom contemplate that there are other ways of analyzing one’s city and acknowledging one’s relationship with it. We still are trapped within the concept of South Mumbai as ‘Bombay’, as though reality stops on the end of the Mahim Causeway. We additionally tend to take a look at change in a slender approach: then and now. And sometimes it’s a limited glamorisation of the previous. I wrote ten essays about Mumbai, change, migration and the thought of a continuous shift, and how one may make sense of all of it.
Being a lady in Mumbai
Higher here than anyplace else in India. In this city, nobody appears at you twice, and even as soon as for that matter. You’re free (and anticipated) to take ownership of the area you inhabit as a resident, a commuter, a client, a wanderer and a pedestrian. Individuals value confidence. They respect heat and friendship. And, while it definitely isn’t free of crime and harassment, it’s attainable to rally widespread opinion, and police help to the aspect of the lady.
Her response to the changing face of Mumbai
I do assume we’re seeing a welcome change in the best way residents have responded to the pedestal they’ve been positioned on. We don’t need to be the brave Mumbaikars who soldier on by means of blasts, floods, bandhs and potholes. We’re starting to admit that we deserve more, and deserve better. We’re starting to say that we’d moderately have a extra liveable city than hear concerning the ‘Spirit of Mumbai’.
Partaking with any city
I really like streets, public transport, public parks, free cultural activities, public areas, bazaars, stray animals, characterless new townships, prolonged suburbs and discounted supermarkets. If I might stay anyplace else on the earth, it will be off the Yamanote Line in Tokyo, Japan. And I’d reside alone.
SAMEER KULAVOOR, VISUAL ARTIST AND ILLUSTRATOR
What Shifting City means
Shifting City to me means the town as a dwelling respiration organism in itself that evolves, modifications, shifts over time. How certain pockets of the town have been purely business areas up to now and at the moment are being developed into residential or dwelling areas. New pockets are being developed – just like the japanese areas of BPT and Sewri. Improve in east-west connectivity (Ghatkopar-Versova metro) makes the town evolve from a linear (North-South) one to a wider and extra difficult network of movement and infrastructure.
Private engagement with Mumbai
I have lived in three areas – my childhood was in Borivali, post-graduation I used to be in Mazgaon and now I’m in Parel. All three areas have a really totally different pace, power and demographics. I take kaali-peeli cabs most of the time to travel from house to my studio and back, and have a superb amount of interaction with individuals on the streets – the cabbies, chaiwallahs, tapris, individuals with different small businesses, apart from my normal interaction with pals and all types of artistic individuals within the city.
Items for the exhibition
A number of months ago I had made a painting referred to as Cafe which Kaiwan noticed and found to be relevant with the theme of this present he was curating. So he got here by my studio to debate it intimately. For my phase, we decided to take a look at the thought of ‘arrival city’ within the context of the individuals (actors, writers, comedians, musicians, and so forth) working for the movie and leisure business, who spend plenty of time in cafes round Versova, Juhu and Bandra. And secondly take a look at those that work in the IT business across the Goregaon-Malad (Link Street stretch within the west and the highway within the east) and find yourself frequenting the department stores round that area.
I am all in favour of new city areas and the way we manoeuvre ourselves via these spaces, what sort of interactions do we’ve each day? Are cafes, meals courts, and co-working areas actually about group or are they the refuge of the lonely? Or like Kaiwan asks, “Are malls the new public spaces?” These are necessary questions.
A Man of the Crowd
A Man of the Crowd was not specifically about Mumbai. It was concerning the concept of a metropolis. Over the previous few years before A Man Of The Crowd, I had been experiencing feelings of disillusionment, insignificance, futility and sceptical optimism about dwelling in a metropolis. I started portray as a fairly visceral response to all the things I felt, noticed and experienced within the final couple of years. In a means portray this collection, figure by determine, was meditative and it helped me deal with these pressures. The works have been knowledgeable immediately or not directly by parts from my environment, travels, on a regular basis occurrences and tragedies, reminiscence, news, social media, family and friends (and self in some instances). It is a take on modern city life – creating landscapes that discover scale, density, friction, relationships. The influence of politics, financial system, concept of improvement and sensible cities – themes I’ve been coping with during the last two years – find their method into these works.
RITESH UTTAMCHANDANI, PHOTOGRAPHER
What Shifting City means
Kaiwan gave us a quick related to ‘Arrived In City’, and over several conferences and discussions, we realised that our works weren’t just taking a look at that however we have been additionally talking concerning the speedy enlargement of the town, each in physical and psychological terms. It evoked reminiscences of the time I moved from Mahim to Goregaon, and the mental jolt I received on seeing the socio-cultural variations. It made me think of all of the conversations I have had with individuals I do know who’ve shifted together with the town – people who went into newer, unheard and unimaginable suburbs.
Private engagement with Mumbai
That is my house. My father’s household and my mother’s, migrated to India submit Partition. As a Sindhi I don’t have a homeland, so to talk. So Bombay is actually house to me, and my engagement is of an analogous nature. Typically you long to be house, typically you need to run distant. I used to interact with the town and its inhabitants in a distant or might I say taken as a right method. It has changed through the years and there’s a sure intimacy and understanding built over time that has matured the best way I photograph it too.
His pictures for Shifting Metropolis
While I do use the traditional digital camera format of the 35mm DSLR, in 2014, I started utilizing the telephone digital camera extensively, within the square format. In the process, I learnt that am a very totally different photographer on the telephone and it started impacting the best way I dealt with the town. The telephone digital camera is the digital camera of immediately, of our era. And what higher solution to show a lived-in expertise of Bombay. I am additionally fairly fatigued by the clichéd pictures of lovers on Marine Drive, crowds at the Gateway Of India, South Bombay allure and so on. As a response to this, I self-published a photograph ebook final yr referred to as The Pink Cat and Different Tales through which I hyperlink a Sindhi fable my mom advised me once I was younger and my means of seeing the town which I feel now can also be influenced by these little fables and people tales. For this show, I took the same concept forward and built an alternate version of the Mumbai Darshan, like a visit from South Bombay to the North, in the shape of a skyline. After laying it out, Kaiwan and I punctured the skyline by shifting giant chunks up and down and thereby disorienting the skyline. So Bandra exhibits up in a piece with Colaba, Goregaon merges with Chembur, and so on. A few of the photographs within the present are from my e-book, some are rejects from the guide, and some have been just lately made, one only a day earlier than I finalised the format!
A picture of his that defines Mumbai
The photograph of the actually ugly ‘I love Mumbai’ signal, with a broken heart.
Shifting Metropolis is on till June eighth at Gallery MMB.