Chennai

Have you seen the new installations at the Chennai airport?

To the background of unending announcements and the chatter of travellers in a hurry at the Chennai International Airport, an oval mural is suspended from the ceiling above, parallel to the wall. Its blue background, is overlaid with circles, representing different countries — encapsulating Tamil Nadu’s global connect.

Airports are the gateway to international traffic — and so, the art they house, has to be befitting. It is viewed by thousands of people on a daily basis and should resonate with travellers. These are things that Sunny Sistems, The Art Company had in mind, while designing the recently erected art works in the Arrival and Departure areas of the Chennai International Airport.

The art company has been in contact with the airport since 2013 — having completed 37 murals and two sculptures in the premises. After a brief hiatus, in 2015 they had done a replica of a Mamallapuram temple in the domestic Departure area and a sculpture depicting seven women playing pallanguzhi.

“There still were blank spaces. We created two concepts: one was for the Departure and one for the Arrival. The former depicts how Chennai airport has become a gateway for the people of South India to go abroad: essentially concentrating on the global connectivity of South India. The size of the circles is proportional to the traffic that we have between Chennai and the said country. We have also depicted places that Chennai would like to connect with in the future,” explains Ravi Dandha of Sunny Sistems, The Art Company. The fact that the mural is suspended, is a first attempt, he adds.

The sculpture in the Arrival, on the other hand, is based on the concept of the flower and the butterfly. “Like how the flower attracts the butterfly with its colour, pollen and nectar, the diverse archaeological heritage of Tamil Nadu specifically, attracts tourists from all over the world,” says Ravi. The installation showcases a cross section of a lotus (which is the national flower), painted in shimmery gold. Its petals display the archaeological marvels of Tamil Nadu, while as tourists in the centre, gaze up to the structures. “Back in 2013, it was decided that the Chennai airport would concentrate on the culture of Tamil Nadu.”

The works are commissioned to artists and artisans from Chennai and Thanjavur — “In fact, the terracotta installation outside the AG-DMS metro station has been done by artists from Thanjavur.” The elaborate mural, revolves around the concept of time and takes on the form of a clock, in an attempt to say that the Metro connectivity saves time and makes locations more accessible. Though works are usually conceptualised by the design team of Sunny Sistems, they are carried out by other artists and artisans.

Ravi feels that public installations are great tools to make art accessible to all. “The involvement of the public is limited in any other form of art. When it comes to public art, especially in spaces like the airport or CMRL, there is no question of ownership: it’s not ours or the authorities’ but it belongs to the people who pass by it.”

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 10:49:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/have-you-seen-the-new-installations-at-the-chennai-airport/article28721205.ece

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