Society

Murals on the wall: Chennai’s mall-goers get a glimpse of the city’s street culture

The Travelling Photo Studio

The Travelling Photo Studio   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A mural in a parking lot, a giant illuminated board of the rare Saurashtra script, and a TikTok installation. St+art India invites Chennai’s mall-goers to celebrate street culture

For the past few days, the otherwise grey basement parking lot at Palladium, has been encouraging a dash of colour.

The walls that flank the entry point carry an almost-done mural, a minimalist one dipped in allegory. Delhi-based muralist Do, has been at it, day and night, trying to portray a piece of his immediate surroundings. And by immediate surroundings, we mean, the parking lot.

What seems like a scene straight out of Tom and Jerry, is in fact, his take on the seemingly ‘mechanical’ parking area. We see a gigantic pair of legs in motion, and a toy car with flashing headlights, approaching from behind. On the wall is a mouse hole, near which a half-done (Do is lending it some finishing touches) mouse scurries along. Titled ‘Niruttattil’, the mural has already turned a few heads.

This is just one of the few interesting art interventions that Phoenix MarketCity is offering, in collaboration with St+art India Foundation, till March 18, under the name India Pop.

A special project by St+art India, which is also in its last leg of the public art project in Kannagi Nagar, India Pop is essentially an interactive journey through the many facets of Indian Pop Culture. Armed with four installations and a just-concluded evening of panel discussions on street art, workshops, a graffiti jam, hip hop cyphers and more, the project aims to give an insight into Indian street art culture, albeit, in a very small fashion.

“We, as a collective, want to bring art to as many people as possible. The audience we get at Phoenix is very different from those at Kannagi Nagar which is more community-driven. The idea of having these projects in parallel was to create bridges between these two spaces leading to a healthy influx of people who would also end up visiting Kannagi Nagar,” says Akshat Nauriya, co-founder of St+art India.

Such projects, he believes, also makes people who visit the space familiar with the media while contributing to the urban fabric of the city. Vijay Choraria, co-promoter — Phoenix MarketCity and Palladium, says, “We have been following Guilia Ambrogi and team, and their work for a long time. This project will give a peek into what they have in store at Kannagi Nagar.”

Mind your language

Walking towards the amphitheatre, one is met with a giant illuminated board of script — not Tamil, but resembling it.

The project manager at St+art India says it is the Saurashtrian script, and its visual resemblance to Tamil is the reason why it was chosen. When it gets dark, the letters illuminate. The script is currently spoken and written by only a few hundred people in South India (it moved from Gujarat a few hundred years ago, with the gypsies).

Typeface designers and artists Hanif Kureshi from Gujarat and Chennai-based Shiva collaborated for this installation, in an effort to draw attention to how we are losing touch with our languages and scripts.

In the courtyard is a travelling photo studio. Pop colours, unmissable patterns and over-the-top settings are what characterise this particular make-shift studio. It is lined by canvases of seemingly classical paintings, peppered with contemporary elements.

For instance, in one of the canvases, a woman clad in a sari is holding a basket full of flowers — reminiscent of the many classical Indian paintings — is seen wearing an Apple watch. The studio is tailor-made for the selfie generation, satiating youth’s need to insert themselves into every frame.

India Unfiltered, a real-time installation by Akshat and artist Marc Lee looks at democratisation of expression in social media and how it leads to positive social change. Culling out significant hashtags that trend in TikTok (which Akshat observes is an app that enabled different sections of the society — not just the urban elite — to partake in global conversations), the duo aggregated the positive ones.

Content across these hashtags are projected real time showcasing diversity in the platform. “On a bigger level, the number of engagements increase the possibilities of positive social change and awareness. It brings together those who have been isolated from this paradigm,” Akshat concludes.

India Pop will be underway at Phoenix MarketCity and Palladium till March 18

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 12:39:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/colour-of-urban-india/article30963696.ece

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