Vandana Kalra Posted online: Friday , Apr 09, 2010 at 0233 hrs
Amid Nike shoes and Mango dresses and Aldo bags, there will be art talking ecology. Yes, the ecosystem of a mall has just gotten weirder. At Select Citywalk in Saket, if you step into the atrium today, you will be staring at a plastic Colossus, made of shampoo bottles and soap dispensers, the menace carved into the claws of the hideous Transformer. It is Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra's 4.2-m-tall sculpture Apocalyptron.
If you happen to step into the washroom, a woman's voice will gently prescribe some wacky home remedies. That is Astha Chauhan's 150-second sound installation Gharelu Nuskhe and Muft ki Salah. Outside, among illuminated trees, Gigi Scaria's video In Panic City will lampoon the metropolis, the animation laughing at the construction drive in Delhi before the Commonwealth Games.
Khoj Studios has brought these art works to what seems like a very unlikely environment — a mall, an urban symbol, the coliseum of consumerism — but that very disparity can provoke a dialogue. "The aim is to reach the masses and get them thinking about the relationship between man and ecology," says Pooja Sood, director of Khoj. "We chose this mall because it is right next to Khoj Studios and the irony is significant. Some might be intrigued by the nature of the work," says Sood.
Some of the works, including those by Scaria, Thukral and Tagra and a video art by Sheba Chhachhi, are not new, but others are a result of a six-week residency at Khoj Studios at Khirkee Village that ended this week. Among the latter, what stands out is a cycle rickshaw by Stuttgart-based artists Sylia Winkler and Stephan Koeperl. Here the driver doesn't cycle, he just manoeuvres the handlebars while the passengers on the backseat do the pedalling. The German duo were fascinated by the eco-friendly cycle rickshaw, but they thought it represented class hierarchy. "We found it to be oppressive," says Koeperl. What followed was a trip to Jhandewalan where a rickshaw was purchased for Rs 7,000. Back at Khoj it was modified to allow passengers to pedal, as the driver navigates. "This is an equaliser, the skills of the driver are required to give directions. We've got an interesting response," says Koeperl. Their Passenger Propelled Rickshaw will be right at the entrance of the mall for you to hop on.
A video by Namrata Mehta, Aliya Pabani and Tejas Pande, meanwhile, has people of an old and a new slice of the NCR — Old Delhi and Gurgaon — talking about memories and dreams. Interestingly, the video titled The Object of my Extension, shows the responses from two ends of the NCR are similar. "One reason for this could be that several residents of Gurgaon have come from smaller cities," says Pabani, who is researching at the Centre for Experimental Media Arts in Bangalore. If you just want to know how hot the day was, then the local weather is being recorded at Hello, Weather!, designed by Americans Chuck Varga and Andrea Polli. An average heat index of 85.3 degree Fahrenheit has been recorded on April 6. The forecast? A sultry summer. Perhaps, on the way out, you can stop for a swig at Japanese Sohei Iwata's Cell House where the artist is purifying tap water.