“We wanted to challenge the notion of the lean season; to get people out of their houses,” says Mukesh Panika, head — Arts Initiative at Religare. “We decided to get innovative and use the gallery itself as a place of art residency.” And so 25 artists spent two weeks each at the arts.i gallery in improvised studio spaces with no wall partitions separating them. The chosen theme for the day-residency was the capital’s landmark shopping area where arts.i is also located—Connaught Place; and the unconventional spirit in which the residency was conducted was aptly captured in the phrase “Why not?”
The show which features the works created during the residency is titled Connaught Place: The WhyNot Place. The success of the day-residency says Panika has prompted the gallery to make it an annual event.
Edited excerpts from an interview with the Delhi-based artist Satadru Sovan Banduri, whose two painting and two installations are part of the show.
Did you have any idea of what you will make before you began the residency?
Dude Whr ...RU? Acrylic on Canvas 62 x 80
A little bit. The 25 artists got the proposal a month in advance. But then I came and looked around in Connaught Place for two days.
Tell us what inspired you to create the works you have made?
There is this one piece called Dude Place. There are lots of good looking dudes and dudettes; CP is a place for the young and good looking to hang out. To me the guys are static, reminiscent of the columns; and the girls were floating, like live mannequins. And there is one bird that is prominent in CP — the pigeon.
I also saw lots of girls and guys with their mobile phones asking their beloveds — where are you? Which is why I titled my other painting — Dude where are you?
The sound installation titled Yummy reflects a bit of irony; there is lots of food imagery on the pizza box and when you put on the ear phones, the sounds you hear are meant to capture the cycle of a day. The morning sounds consist of the pigeon chirping; then the sound of fax at 10, the ambulance siren, click of the keyboard for the last email being sent out from the office at 5.00 in the evening; at 6.00 the car horns of the crowded road and then the sounds of the evening wine and beer places.
The installation Cyber Glimpses is about CP in cyberspace — there are communities on sites such Orkut and Facebook dedicated to CP — where people talk about CP, Central Park. I have created a psychedelic atmosphere to reflect the cyberspace.
Any change in the way you see CP before and after this residency?
Dude place Acrylic on Canvas 81 x 119
Earlier I hadn’t considered CP as a subject. We take an element — something from it — and create that on canvas. Now, I would say I have a broader view.
How would you characterise the relation between CP and Delhi?
It is the heart of the city. It is lively and throbbing. You sit in central park and you feel different feelings; going to Keventers milk shop is nostalgia for me. Pizza Hut and KFC opened their first outlets here. You get a mix of people here — from East Delhi, West Delhi and North Delhi. It is like a celebration point.
Connaught Place: The WhyNot Place will be showing at the Religare Arts.i Gallery until 23 August, 2009 from 10.00am to 11.00pm.