The Web: Public Art Installation In Byculla

13 March 2013

"It's ironic that in a city as big as Mumbai, where there are vast spaces, there aren't many opportunities for public art," says one of India's leading artists, Reena Kallat; a statement most citizens would resound with. Cherry-picked out of a nation-wide basket of the ripest talent, Kallat was given the opportunity to rectify this void by ZegnaArt's Public Project. As one of three initiatives under its new umbrella, the project aims to give local institutions a boost as well as scout out local talent that has been going unnoticed. India is their first chapter, while two and three will take place in Turkey and Brazil respectively. The work that's being funded by them, will ultimately be donated to museums.

So what did Kallat do? She quite literally wove a web about Byculla's Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, situated on a road well-travelled. But it's the symbolism of the installation that piques interest. Kallat's almost-obsessive usage of postage stamps in her work is as renowned as her reputation. Employed in this 'web' as well, it is meant to signify how the city has transcended from its past colonialism to more 'indigenous names' (the bottom of each stamp has the name of a road that represents this change) as well as symbolise the stifling bureaucracy that the stamp always reminds us of. The cobweb itself is a metaphor for all the time that's passed. In the artist’s self-description: "It's evocative of time and just as a room is left vacant; stories that are not visited gather cobwebs that appear to hold the dust from the past."

Public art takes on a very different meaning in a place like Mumbai. Space is so congested, it would be interesting to see how an artist would manifest the somewhat unique relationship citizens share with their public spaces here. Luckily, we can do so now.

The installation was unveiled on 2 March and will be open for public viewing until 19 May at Byculla's Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum.

Museum Timings: Everyday from 10am - 5.30pm - closed on Wednesdays.

Words: Mandovi Menon
Image Credit: Deepanjana Pal



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