Contested Spaces

A contested spaces is an area in which two or more entities are in dispute over. I find that it comes with a sense of need or greed to encroach upon another space. My opinion on the issue of contested spaces fluctuates as per the situation.
I believe a space inhabited by slum dwellers in a city like Bombay cannot be seen as a contested space. These are people that come from villages from all over India, some that have even been there for generations. Most of the inhabitants that live in these slums are the backbone of the city. Therefore its not a fair statement to make that they don’t belong in the space just in spirit of development.
When there are SRA projects that give rise to new housing for the inhabitants of the slum, they are made to live in a space with poor ventilation, lack of natural light and a lifestyle they are not used to. I do believe the government land they inhabit cannot be taken away from them.
The way I look at an agricultural land as a contested space is very different. These lands are inhabited by farmers that live with a very low income, suddenly exposing them to heaps of money as a bribe to get away from their space for industrial use. It is a way in which an entire farming culture is abolished through this.
There is a very thin line in the issue of contested spaces. It is the blurry border that causes these issues at a small scale, and sometimes at the scale of Countries.

Poetics of Space – Corners

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard (1958) looks at the way a space is an experience. He doesn’t look at spaces as just being entities but what the meaning and the emotion is behind what he is looking into. Its the experience one feels with the space and how the space has come about to even begin with.
Chapter 6 in Poetics of spaces is about corners. This looks at the importance and impact a corner has on a space. It is a symbol of solitude for the imagination. A corner is a space of solitude. It is further derived as ones personal space where there is no room for further interaction. The corner is looked at in a very positive way. It is not something that is forgotten just because it does not lend a spacious central quality of the space. It is a symbol of solitude, a space to hide.
Corners are most often spaces of comfort. It could be the edge of a piece of furniture or a corner in a room. Is is away from the centre at a point at which one finds isolation and centre within themselves.
This could be looked at as a space not so pleasant. For example the edge of a map of one boundary into another boundary. This creates the edge of one space pushed into the corner. It creates a space of lost identity. Does this corner belong to this territory or that?

Lakeer without Poem

This short video work by Shruti Mahajan, poetically and very artistically makes the viewer feel the force borders and partitions have on us. The video uses uses graphic elements of maps and is in a monochrome colour scheme of only black and white without distractions making the viewer see the situation for what it is.
The film has been inspired by the poem Lakeer. This poem talks about the division of the Indian subcontinent. This is looking at the idea of the boundary, or the simply the line of division. This line is further taken forward in the mindsets of people and the boundaries of their beliefs. The film inspired by this poem is divided into three parts.
This part of the film, draws over an existing map. Taking the line in at some points, further out at some points and even intersecting with the existing line. Questioning who really is creating this line of division and how can it be so precise? The line is drawn in thick black charcoal drawn with great force across the page. There is no precision in the way the outline of the map is drawn and seems to be done in a way where the mind is following the simple motion of the hand. The background sound to this is applause and cheering, as though it is some kind of celebration. This sends out a very morbid signal as the visual quality depicts something very dark in comparison to this cheer.
This part of the video uses a technique of showing a process of working on something very skilfully. she’s cutting out what looks like train tracks or more so even the border that would be this line that has been drawn between the divided country. This making is a process shown in a very artistic craft kind of way as though is something beautiful being made that has been documented. Once again here, the peacefulness of just watching her make this is lost by the harsh colour of the black.
Through this sequence one sees the scissor angrily moving through an existing map with great force cutting through the borders all over. The motion of the siccor is not following the line of the map but moving across various directions inside and outside of the map. In a way this symbolises that the division is not so clear. The division of the map does not move in one direction but cuts all over. This brutal cutting cutis into one space and another. This emphasises the first part of the video as to who has created these borders and are they even right?

State of Architecture

In a city like Bombay, being an architecture exhibition is quite a rare sight for me. I had heard a lot of praise about the exhibition before visiting the show, but still not sure what I expected out of it. On visiting the exhibition at the NGMA Bombay the show blew my mind. The exhibition had a lot of content, where in a usual case might be too overwhelming. The show managed to maintain most viewers attention very closely through the show. I found, the exhibition was like walking through an extremely interesting book.
The first three levels of the exhibition had a historic timeline, which was very well curated in a manner that is very natural for one to walk through. The content was exciting as there were many building I recognised as well as some that came to my notice for the first time and really admired. The content of the exhibition really brought out the good in the city and some of the amazing architecture in India.
There were several structures as part of the exhibition that I had seen before, through my leanings in History of Architecture but seeing the works having in a gallery space exaggerated the importance in a sense. One of the key aspects that went along the timeline was the political events happening at the time the structures were designed/ built. This really helped to see the various movements in a chronological manner.
The history of the exhibition only started post independence so essentially only looking at Indian architecture. The curators made it a point not to go into looking at private buildings and only brought out public spaces through the exhibition. The use of a timeline through the way in which the exhibition was viewed brought out a sense of materials and how it has significantly changed over the years of development, as well as distinguishing various architectural styles.
I found the arrangement and quality of presentation was what enhanced the exhibition. The very simple graphic use of clean lines was eye catching as well as an easy flow through the space. What I specifically liked was the references on the ground floor to all the research that had gone into the exhibition. This is something people usually tend to put at the end. Having it right in the beginning as the first thing the viewer sees when s/he walks in is the depth at which the exhibition has been extensively researched which became a key component of the show.
With new development taking place now, I hardly see things I appreciate. What was surprising was how I really enjoyed the top floor seeing the new architectural masterpieces by some great architects around India, working on public and not private spaces. The way in which this was organised was curated to feel like one is moving through an architectural space of small clusters with little windows. I did find that a few models would enhance the recent architectural works. This might have been an intended choice by the curators to just have a two dimensional visual quality to the show. My general feel about the exhibition was great and I have a lot to take back from the show.

Peter Brooks Mahabharata

The Mahabharata is a classic Indian folklore with several different versions as it was a narration based story and never written down as one definite novel. There have been several various ways the story has been told depending on who and where the story is being told. With its vast identity, there have also been several adaptations.
Peter Brooks, based in France has made an adaptation of the Mahabharata. Brooks not coming from any sort of Indian origin has taken the story and made it into a movie. He’s con temporised the story to a certain extent but I feel like he could have pushed it further in another direction.
He has made an adaptation of the story using Western actors and English as a means of communication. He hasn’t changed the version of a story to adapt it to something that is contemporary. This is one way in which he could have enhanced the film.
The other thing I found missing in the film was the idea of using Western actors and an English script but not stretching it to its full potential of being translated well, and putting up a show with more extravagant costumes.
I found that he has created the movie in a very direct and relatable manner, almost as though the characters could be in your living room as you watch it. I found the acting was very exaggerated in terms of speech but not taken too far in terms of location and costume.
I found the film not powerful enough and not doing justice to a great epic like the Mahabharata.

Film review – Iyneh

The film Iyneh, made in 1997 is an Iranian film directed by Jafar Panahi, about a little girl trying to find her way home from school. As I first started to watch the film, I had a terrible scare as to what is going to happen to this little child with a broken hand that is left outside school.From the first scene, my expectation of the film was very different from what it unravelled into.
The intensity of the first scene, where the viewer is made to feel very bad somehow dies down as the film progresses. The role of the absent character is what one longs to see in the first half of the film, who is the little girls mother, which leads the viewer into believing the plot goes beyond the girls journey home from school.
All of a sudden the original intent of the film is lost as the girl suddenly decides she does not want to act in the film anymore. It goes from a film with a plot to actually becoming a live documentary of the little girls behaviour.
The film takes a rapid turn where it goes from a scripted story to following the real emotions of an actor. The breaking of the fourth wall is an interesting change where the story moves from her looking for her mother, to actually wanting to run away from this fake scenario she is made to be a part of.
The film follows a clear time lapse with the constant sound of a live football match going on in the background. The first half of the film where the girl is determined on finding her house she moves around spaces based on what they look like and not by their names, emphasising the child like quality she has despite her independence of trying to find her way home.
In this turn of events we see the directors intent also changing in the film. He no longer wants to proceed with his version of the story but prefers to go ahead with hers.

Performance Art – Nikhil Chopra

At the Gallery Chaterjee and Lal we were shown the works of artist Nikhil Chopra. Chopra is a performance artist, breaking the barrier between what is performance art and theatre. His work involves taking on the role of a persona and allowing the audience to watch and be part of the work.
His first performance in Bombay, he took on the character of Yog Raj Chitrakar, (fictional character based on Chopra’s grandfather). Through the course of the 72 hour performance, he made a drawing of the panoramic view seen from the rooftop of Kamal Mansion in Colaba, which is the same building of the gallery Chatterjee and Lal.
Through the performance he did not move out of the space, and developed and changed the character of this space over time. While Chopra went through several transformations during the performance, It was his interaction with the space also that was very important. He had constant transitions in his character that he brought out through his change of costume and body language. The space was also changed with every transformation the character went through.
The space Chopra inhabited for 72 hours changed in its character bringing out new settings of spaces he had to inhabit. The other crucial element of the change taking place through the performance was the coming and going of the viewers. The audience played a role in the placement of where things could be. Its also not just Chopra that is inhabiting the space, but also the viewers and their interpretation and reaction to the space. Spaces had no boundaries. The audience was even permitted to go and watch him when he went to the toilet or any other private matter. This is a key aspect in where the audience knows it boundaries.
Through this 72 hour performance I had been for a short while. Through this time period, he was constantly acting. Whether he was working on the paranoia view of the wall, there was a very perforative way in which he worked. This was with a touch of drama. 
There was another moment in which he was just sitting across the wall. This was in a very maintained pose without looking around at those coming and going.
Through the little that I saw of the performance I really took a lot back with me from this. On watching it in a fast motion seven years later at the gallery, I really saw the quick transformations he and the space took on.

Indian Art

VS Gaitonde – paintings and process
The Guggenheim retrospective
The long work with the hues of blues has lightness emerging from the bottom. The sides of the bottom of the work forms a very two dimensional space, which comes together in the centre almost forming a three dimensional form. There seems to be a greater depth in the centre of the work. It depicts a very serine surrounding. I find that it could look like a body of water, if placed flat on the ground within a space. This idea that it could be a body of water gives the work a very calming feeling.
The second work could be placed in an empty space, completing it with a sense of serenity. If it were to be placed within a tight space, I find it would add a lot of depth to it with a gradual layering.
This painting looks at space from a complete distance. The band of the black is the life to the painting. The small scale figures at a distance look busy, they seem to be caught up in the blurriness of the black. The light shadows at the top and bottom are the calming elements that move into a lightness of the space.

Space and Art

The role art plays in a space is something that is very transformational. A space is something one not only feels from a visual sense, but is a collection of all the senses. This includes the smell of the space, the tactile – of how one feels emotionally within a space. The impact sound has within a space.
Art has the power to evoke all these senses and enhance a space in a certain way. For instance if one is at a gallery space observing visual art, while it is something one looks at, there is also a great amount of sensors that play with it. Art can transform the mood and feeling of a space.
A space is powered by what it consists of, an empty space brings out a sense of silence which is not felt through the sensory of hearing but more through the feeling and the visual. Art also has the power to change the scale of a space. This could be done through exaggeration of a sculpture or through the means of making one really intricately look into something.
The physical interaction one has with art is also a define point for how one feels within a space with art. This is though how much one is able to engage with the art.
However sometimes in a museum, it is the space that is able to have more of an impact on a viewer than the art. Depending on ones perception, there is always the thin line differentiating people. This is based on their biases of what they prefer to be surrounded by.