In a first-of-its-kind initiative, India Habitat Centre is displaying art at two metro stations in New Delhi at Jor Bagh Station and Mandi House station
Online PR News – 19-January-2015 – New Delhi – In a first-of-its-kind initiative of taking art to the public, India Habitat Centre is displaying art at two metro stations in New Delhi at Jor Bagh Station and Mandi House station starting January 15, 2015. Titled The Habitat Initiative: Art In Public Spaces, the project has been designed in collaboration with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). The chosen artworks will be displayed on the lightboxes installed at the metro stations and will change every three months. Moreover, the explanatory text displayed alongside would be bilingual being both in English and Hindi.
Says Mr. Rakesh Kacker, Director, India Habitat Centre, “India Habitat Centre has always been in the forefront of creating programming that has a mass appeal. In a new policy initiative, we have decided to now take art to public spaces and our collaboration with Delhi Metro is the first step in that direction.”
Curator Dr Alka Pande adds, “Community art refers to field of community, neighborhood and public art practice with roots in social justice and popular and informal education methods. The Habitat Initiative, hence, was to work in the genre of community arts, primarily using photographs, prints and video and digital works.”
For instance, from January till March 2015, at the Jor Bagh metro station, photographs from the exhibition, “The Long Exposure at Udaipur, 1857-1957”, would be displayed on three light-boxes. Nearly 20 prints of some photographs from this collection would also be displayed on the walls there. These displayed images would include ‘Painted Photographs’ or hand-coloured photographs and the portraits of three generations of Maharanas who ruled Mewar from 1874 to 1955. Udaipur was amongst the earliest places to record the appearance of a camera, in the form of the camera obscura, an optical device meant to assist in the creation of realistic painting.
Pre-dating the arrival of photography in India in 1840, it was used as early as 1818 by Colonel James Tod, the British political agent at the Court of Mewar. The photographic collection of the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation(MMCF), which is on display in the City Palace of Udaipur , is a testament to the camera’s documentary role in Mewar over a century, allowing for a nuanced insight into a complex world of hierarchy , power, symbolism and pride.
Says Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar about the collection, “Over the last five decades, Maharana Mewar Charitable Foundation has been preserving the 'living heritage' of Mewar and Rajasthan, and engaging diverse audiences through its World Living Heritage Festivals. With publications, exhibitions, and festivals, the 'living heritage' of Mewar is being shared with global audiences today. This pioneer initiative by The India Habitat centre is one such step in sharing this living heritage with the commuters of Delhi Metro”
Explains Dr Pande, “We selected photographs from The Long Exposure exhibition as it is an important recorder of history and also because photography as a medium has always been at the core of Habitat’s art initiatives.”
Since March is the month of Holi, at the Mandi House station, photographs on Holi by Tarun Chhabra would be displayed on two lightboxes. Says the photographer, “I like to celebrate people, places and culture through my photography. My choice of subject comes from a place of intuition and is fuelled by an impetuous desire to partake in the stories that unfold around me. My pictures are a reflection of different facets of my own personality.... earthy, bright, happy as well as sad, realistic. I see beauty and I see reality. I see celebration and solemnity. They are sights that stir me, affect me and inspire me.”
The third lightbox at Mandi House station would display a poster from the Crime Writers Festival at the time when the festival is held at the Habitat on January 17 and 18, 2015. This has been especially chosen to encourage gender sensitization during these times of rising crime against women. “Gender sensitization isn’t just about fighting rape, domestic violence and discrimination. It’s about understanding that crying doesn't make a man any weaker and women drive just fine. We've gone as far as biologically defining differences in aptitudes for girls and boys, far away from a gender neutral society and towards another century long process of stereotyping. This exhibition is just an attempt, like many before this, to help put a stop to it,” says Mita Kapur, producer of the Crime Writers Festival. Following the completion of the Crime Writers Festival, the same lightbox would display Australian artist Robyn Beech’s photographs on Holi.
Finally, in an effort to reiterate that most of Habitat’s programming is aimed at the larger audience, at the Mandi House station, the fourth lightbox will display the calendar of upcoming events at the Habitat so that people have a ready reckoner for each month. On January 3, for instance, a tribute to Begum Akhtar will be held as part of Habitat Concert series.
At the Habitat building complex itself, Israeli artist David Gerstein’s sculptures will also be displayed as part of the project. Gerstein (b. 1944 in Jerusalem) creates universal, colourful and layered imagery of still-life compositions, urban landscapes and human activity. Gerstein’s art is about good-hearted objects that convey a certain irony and humor, which grows more and more convoluted and yet for him, at least, remains simple and innocent, as it was during his childhood in the fifties. The range of circumstances, both artistic and popular, under which the public has been exposed to Gerstein’s work in the past years, i.e. the statues and cut-outs, as well as his overflowing presence, speak of the community’s deep need for this type of creation.
After the first three months (January-March 2015), both the metro stations at Jor Bagh and Mandi House would feature a new set of works from April till June 2015. The Jor Bagh station would be lit up with images from Shashi Gogate’s photographs of women leaders from across India while the Mandi House station would have evocative images from Shobha Deepak Singh’s collection of photographs on prominent theatre personalities.
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