3BHK

Bangalore has a unique phenomenon: art galleries with beds in them. At any time, the city is host to half a dozen exhibition spaces inside people’s houses.

Home Sweet Home, one of its galleries brought its concept to Kochi to coincide with the third biennale, after founder Chinar realised it could “really be anywhere, not just my own house.”

Together with artists Nihaal Faizal and Leslie Johnson, they set up 3BHK, a ground floor apartment whose three bedrooms, hall and kitchen were used to exhibit art centred around the theme of home. It also housed (no pun intended) a gift shop selling sand jigsaw puzzles, postcards and zines published by their artist friends.

We visited to chat with the curators about their show and the curious case of apartment galleries in the garden city.

How would you describe what you do?

Chinar: I’m a visual artist and I’ve been teaching at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore for almost three and a half years now. I teach a variety of courses in  photography, visual arts and humanities.

Nihaal: I’m an artist and most often I work with found materials of different kinds. Most of these materials have something to do with photography or the photographic image in a broader sense.

 

How did you guys meet?

Nihaal: When I was a third-year student at Srishti, Chinar had just joined as a facilitator. I think one of Chinar's first classes was to come as a guest lecturer to a class I was enrolled in, to talk about photography.

Chinar: We’ve also worked together on art and curatorial projects in last few years.

 

How did the The 3bhk show show come about?

Chinar: The 3bhk Show was part of the Home Sweet Home project where myself, Leslie Johnson and Nihaal organised a curatorial project in Kochi during the Biennale.

It was a way to expand the notion of home beyond Home Sweet Home. Home Sweet Home generally runs out of my own apartment in Bangalore. Of late, I have been wanting to expand possibilities of home-based curatorial projects out of a fixed space. Since we do not need the white cube of a gallery, we can function out of any kitchen, a bathroom, a balcony or even an attic.

Nihaal: How the show sort of emerged is that the three of us as organisers were trying to make a show of our own work - as artists organising their own presentation. We were thinking about a common theme between our work and came up with the thematic of the home because that featured in our work one way or another. The process was then about looking at other artists, mostly our friends’ work to see what other work exists that fits.

Chinar: When we found the house in Kochi, we went on to looking for art and artists whose work would fit into the space, and conceptual framework of the show.

 
 

 

Tell me about some of the artists that exhibited in the show including your own?

Chinar: We had works by Eva Koch, Famous Artist which comprises of Leslie Johnson and Smriti Mehra, Irene Westholm, Franco Leidi, Nihaal and myself. Every artist responded to the house in different ways, which brought the domestic space together.

Nihaal: What I showed were two large photographs of landscapes. Both were originally photographs that came with the Windows XP operating system. There were a total of seven landscape photographs in the OS and I rephotographed them all. I made sure that in all of my pictures, the flash from my camera was visible to show that the images weren’t the originals in that sense. While I showed two prints as part of the exhibition, the entire series was available as a set of postcards in the shop.

My favourite work from the exhibition was ‘Augusta’ by Eva Koch who is an artist from Denmark. For this work, Eva shot two videos - one of Augusta, an old lady from Greenland who had shifted to Denmark with her husband and one of Augusta’s extended family presently in Greenland. The two channel installation was originally a tribute to Augusta, who was too old to travel to Greenland and was presented to her as a birthday gift. The two videos played side by side on two box TVs inside one of the bedrooms of our apartment, almost like a family photo.

Chinar: Irene’s video looks out of the apartment and sees many windows and storeys in other apartments. She shot these different videos separately and then put them together  This work on one hand is a story within 3BHK home and at the same time, you look at other homes with their stories as the time of day keeps changing, which come together in one frame on an old television set.

The Famous Artist Collective created a magic carpet where one goes into a world of fantasy of ownership and real estate. Aspirations of ownership are laid out on the floor plan of the carpet.

In my own work, I explore the newly recognised European Union right to be forgotten. When all of humanity’s efforts have gone into creating tools of remembering, how do we understand the right to be forgotten as a fundamental human right. In this work, close friends and family members certify that Chinar has right to be forgotten through trophies and certificates on the wall. The work uses tools of remembrance in our day-to-day life to forget.

 

What led you to begin Home Sweet Home?

Chinar: In an artist’s talk once in Bangalore, someone in the audience pronounced, ‘I will give you a wall on my house to show your work and to sell’. This triggered a thought in my mind ‘I already pay rent for my house, why can’t I open my space to show works of artists?’ I realised there were so many friends and artists whose work I loved but did not get to see it in public within the context of galleries.

 
 

 

Nihaal, you too ran a space out of your own home before. Tell me about G159.

Nihaal: G.159 was a project space that I ran in my apartment living room as a student at Srishti. I started it with a friend when we were both 18 and quite excited about turning our home into an exhibition space. There wasn’t much happening culturally at the time in Yelahanka New Town where we had both just moved for college and this was sort of an attempt to address that. We initially developed it as a space where we could show our own work and bounce off ideas while offering and receiving critique and feedback from other friends and faculty.

 

What kinds of spaces do you enjoy exhibiting your work now and why?

Nihaal: I’m still most interested in spaces that aren’t conventional galleries. So far I’ve shown my work in various apartments, but also in the waiting room of a movie theatre, inside an electronics retail showroom, at a birthday party, at a restaurant, and inside a garage.

I guess there’s many reasons why, one being that there’s always a chance to encounter an audience that you would otherwise never be able to access. Another reason is that the space always brings about a reading to the work that is specific to it with each installation or each attempt. So for instance, the photographs I showed at 3BHK would be received very differently inside a home as opposed to a gallery.

 

How is exhibiting in an inhabited space different from a typical white cube?

Chinar: It’s very different, difficult and exciting all at the same time. With the white cube, you can create the space the way you’d like it. In an inhabited space, you have to work around an already existing space – there's always going to be a bed, a kitchen space, a bathroom space, sofas. The colours of the sofas, the colours of the wall will change the our relationship to art. Let's say you have a green wall in the house, how are you going put an image up, how will it interact with the artwork? On one hand you have to think a lot about the space as opposed to only the work and the work has to fit into the the space to make sense. It's not just a neutral space, it's a political space.

 

Why is Bangalore so conducive to residence turned galleries?

Chinar: I guess it comes out of a desire to show work and want to see work. Srishti is an art and design institute where students constantly explore with various materials and concepts. Many students and artists have tried to create such alternative home spaces not only to show art but also to build a dialogue outside mainstream spaces.

 

Is Home Sweet Home an ongoing thing?

Chinar: Ya it's very much an ongoing space. I took a break for a while since Cochin was a very big show. We are back to work this month. Performance artist Avril Stormy Unger presented an installation-based show two weeks ago called ‘Please Call the Police’. Leslie Johnson just wrapped up her show Unravelling the Doily. So we have a busy year ahead.

 

What are your tips for househunting?

Nihaal: Househunting? I don’t know. Is this the part where I conclude with something witty?

 

Visit their website here and follow Home-Sweet-Home on facebook to stay updated. 

Q&A with Material Immaterial

Coinciding with the London Design Festival this week, Indian Design Platform presents Transformation, an exhibition of objects and installations by contemporary Indian designers whose practises give a second lease of life to unwanted materials.

In curator Arpna Gupta’s words, ‘the exhibition takes inspiration from the culture of recycling and reuse that exists to the extreme in India, exploring the ways in which artists and designers have reinterpreted humble, discarded materials as design objects.’            

We interviewed Nitin Barchha, co-founder and designer at Mumbai-based design studio Material Immaterial whose papier mâché lamps will be on exhibition.

 

 

Who makes up Material Immaterial? How did you begin to work with each other?

The Material Immaterial studio was founded by myself and my partner Disney Davis. We met while working together as architects in a studio and then founded our own architectural design practice 'The White Room Studio'. The main motive behind establishing Material Immaterial was to create work that could offer the end user spatial experiences and get them closer to nature through small objects of daily use. The studio aims to go beyond a definitive material or definitive process and aims to focus purely on ideas, limiting the material to be a mere medium of expression.

The studio is built on the basic principles of exploring the bare beauty of materials. As designers we are essentially minimalists and our design approach has always been of what to leave out, rather than what to put in. This reduction process is what takes one through a mirror, emerging out on the other side to discover richness, like in the subtle differences between five shades of grey or in different textures of concrete. Through our work the studio strives to challenge the purpose of material and lets design be at the helm of things.

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What are you exhibiting at Transformation?

The Bell Flower Cloud lamp is ceiling mounted with clusters of bell flowers drooping down, they incorporate the texture the buoyancy and the feeling of lightness.

The Mushroom lamp is inspired by a real mushroom taking form and its intricate texture replicating gills with its stalk. The light is hidden, and only the glow visible once the lamp is fixed onto a wall.

The Trumpet lamp is inspired from the flower Angel's Trumpets. It is suspended from the ceiling and has mirrors inside which reflect and focus the light downwards. The texture on the outer surface is smooth and the texture inside is made rough.

 

 

Where do your ideas come from?

For the Organic collection they came from nature, be it mushrooms, mosses, ferns or flowers.


How are your products made?

The products are made from recycled newspapers which is then ground into a pulp mixed with glue and converted into papier mâché.

 
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What led you to work with papier mâché?

The Organic collection is the first product line from our studio. We used papier mâché as it gives us the flexibility of use and allows us to explore different possibilities of form and texture inspired from nature.

We wanted a material that was lightweight, flexible (so that we could create organic forms) and is inexpensive (raw material). We started experimenting with paper in different forms and eventually landed at papier mâché. This was the only material that had all the qualities that I required and was also easily available.

The first experiment using papier mâché was a pen stand that still stands at my studio. Slowly over time, we perfected the techniques required trying various permutations and combinations. After about two years of continuous experimentation, the resulting papier mâché was exactly what we were looking for.

 

 

Name three local designers to keep an eye out for?

Devyani Smith studio pottery
Ajay Shah from ASDS
Aziz Kachwalla from At-Tin


What is good design?

Good design is minimal, aesthetic & forever.

 

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Photography by LOVER studio for Create Culture.

 

Transformation is the second edition of Indian Design Platform, an exhibition by Create Culture at The Guardian Gallery, London between 19th and 25th September. More details here.

The Alipore Post x LOVER #2

Art by Rachna Ravi



Love Poem by Tishani Doshi

Ultimately, we will lose each other

to something. I would hope for grand

circumstance —  death or disaster.

But it might not be that way at all.

It might be that you walk out

one morning after making love

to buy cigarettes, and never return,

or I fall in love with another man.

It might be a slow drift into indifference.

Either way, we’ll have to learn

to bear the weight of the eventuality

that we will lose each other to something.

So why not begin now, while your head

rests like a perfect moon in my lap,

and the dogs on the beach are howling?

Why not reach for the seam in this South Indian

night and tear it, just a little, so the falling

can begin? Because later, when we cross

each other on the streets, and are forced

to look away, when we’ve thrown

the disregarded pieces of our togetherness

into bedroom drawers and the smell

of our bodies is disappearing like the sweet

decay of lilies —  what will we call it,

when it’s no longer love?

 

Recommended Listening: 

Moon Child - The F16s

Then We Go Out - Sky Rabbit (Messiah cover)

In the Footsteps – Sahil Vasudeva

She Sand Sea - Kumail

Hindustani Rascal - MLFNKTION

Mid-2016 Roundup: 10 of India’s best songs so far

 

Links:

Nether Magazine

Indianama

Keepers of the Sun

How the middle class makes love

India’s Paradise of Street Graphics

When Led Zeppelin visited India

Anglo-Indian-isms

 

 

Visit The Alipore Post Offline, a curated weekend pop up in Bangalore this weekend Sept 17th and 18th at The Courtyard House.
See the facebook event for more details. 

For a daily dose of art, poetry, music and interesting links found on the Internet, sign up for The Alipore Post.

The Alipore Post

I discovered The Alipore Post late last year, when it linked to one of my own stories. I went through its archives briefly, felt terribly flattered and signed up for it. Ever since day #275 I’ve woken up to a daily newsletter that distracts me every morning but in a good way - with art, poetry and music from all corners of the globe and links to the best things on the internet.

On February 2, 2015, founder Rohini Kejriwal gave birth to The Alipore Post in the neighbourhood from which it gets its name. On a sabbatical that took her to Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and all over South India, she found herself back in her bedroom in Calcutta “where all the magic took place, and my brain would suddenly be wired to match the perfect poem and artwork, or stumble upon an article or website that was too good to keep to myself.”

The name, The Alipore Post, is an ode to her home and all things postal. “I love letter writing, which was the only means of keeping in touch with people back home when I was at boarding [school]”, she explains.

Now based in Bangalore, and wherever her feet take her, and a freelance writer by profession, this long time image saver, poem eater, music lover and bookmarker has made collating and curating second nature.

With almost 800 subscribers on TinyLetter, and 5500 on Facebook, The Alipore Post has quickly gained itself a substantial following. Subscribers love it for making sense of the internet via neat little daily compilations, others lament the endless vortex it sucks them into but are fans anyway. For those that can’t get enough from the handful of links in the newsletter, Facebook serves to tide them over until the next day.

Apart from the feedback she receives and connections she’s forged, how has this self-directed project been rewarding? “This might sound silly but I always imagined dying an obscure death. Thanks to The Alipore Post and the scale it has taken off on, I might just be remembered after I go, which is a nice feeling.”

Tired of only living online, Rohini is planning a pop up cafe in Bangalore - a weekend of food, music, art, board games, poetry, letter writing, vinyl sessions, and all the things that make her happy. It's time, she declares, “I'm ready to go offline and come out of my awkward shell and go on a hugging spree.”

 

For each issue henceforth, The Alipore Post will put together an India-centric special for LOVER. See the first one here.

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