PROPOSAL FOR AN PUBLIC ART PROJECT
BHAU DAJI LAD MUSEUM
ZEGNART PUBLIC INITIATIVE IN INDIA
Working Title- “The Limits of the town of Bombay”
The Bhau Daji Lad Museum is a city museum of Mumbai, one of the oldest in the country. Hence I propose an artwork that primarily addresses the City of Bombay (today Mumbai) and its people.
The work essentially addresses what people come to terms with in their lives as citizens, migrants, workers and visitors to the most cosmopolitan of cities of India.
The work also attempts to address basic questions of survival in contemporary India.
And India though shining(?) but torn between caste, class, religion, state, and language.
Taking off from a small exhibit, a marking-stone/mile-stone exhibited in the east lawn outside the museum which says-
” The limits of the Town of Bombay”
What are the limits of the City of Mumbai today?
What are the limits of the people of Mumbai today?
What are the limits that people set for themselves who come to Mumbai with huge aspirations, dreams and desires?
Does the City set limits for them, unsaid or said?
What are the said limits? And what are the unsaid ones?
Were the limits always there?
Who sets the limits?
How are the limits set?
Are the limits challenged? If yes, then how are they challenged?
What limits do we set for ourselves?
When do we challenge these limits?
How do we challenge these limits?
Do the challenges to our limits make us better human beings, or do we sink deeper?
What limits do we set for others?
How do we set these limits?
When and how do we allow people to challenge us?
Do we break under these challenges?
Mumbai, just like most of cities in India today is challenged each day, by these limits and by the resilient people who challenge the limits. Its recent history talks of the times it has succumbed, and of times it has overcome the limits. How its people have failed it or lifted it out of its mire.
Mumbai today, for me, is at crossroads, almost bursting at its seams, its ethos, ethics, morality, infrastructure severely challenged.
Its aspiration to become a “Shanghai” is another dreadful challenge the city planners are throwing its way!
Its race to out do Delhi, which was never a competition, seems to me a desperate attempt to stay ahead in a race it runs alone.
Some challenges help the cities grow, others pull them down!
Some limits enhance values, others limits devalue life!
What are the Limits of a City?
What are the Limits of this City?
What are the Limits of this society?
What are the Limits of its people?
What are the Limits?
And are we going to overcome them…………………. or cross them?
Using another element from the museum, which helps mark a Limit---
The Turnstile situated at the entrance of the museum marks the ‘Limits’ of both the museum and the outside!
Using the turnstile as a major element of my work, a physical limit that may be crossed or overcome,
I propose to put up 30 turnstiles metaphorically representing “The limits of the town of Bombay”.
Each of them shall follow the design of the turnstile used by the Museum as seen in the picture above.
I have listed 30 “Limits” which I think have been crossed; need to be overcome for the dynamic city of Mumbai to survive.
And for India to survive with it!
Or they may be limits that an individual may overcome or cross when faced with the challenges that life throws up!
I want to somewhere implicate the viewer/public for their responsibility in what has happened over the years and in their responsibility shaping the Future.
The turnstile will be made of metal, coming as close as possible to the original with the ‘Limits” engraved on it in both Hindi and English. When confronting the work the turnstile only revolves one-way, so if the public wishes to turn back, they cannot, they have to complete the exit/entrance, the crossing or the overcoming.
The work uses reflective glass on the two outer sides, as shown in the drawings, implicating the public. I shall be using the reverse side of the reflective glass on the outside as that gives a less hardened image and reflection. The glass shall also have the text (The Limits) cut out in vinyl, which makes the glass more interactive.
The vinyl shall be a printed photograph visible only from the inside, and the text from the opposite side.
The photographs shall be of/from the surrounding area of Byculla, which has been through a lot of changes right from the British colonial rule to the riots of 1992/93, till today.
A visitor can choose whether to interact with the work by passing through a Limit or by just bypassing it. But he/she will be confronted by the mirrors which foreground the viewer again and again forcing him/her to interact with the work.
Each of the turnstiles will have a self-generating ticket dispenser. As one exits the turnstile shall generate a self-adhesive ticket (sticker), which would say what ‘Limit’ has been crossed/overcome at random. This they may take away with them to stick onto their vehicles, rooms, houses or shop fronts implicating the themselves in the history and the contemporary circumstances of the city/country and participate in the work.
A question, an abstraction; a part of the work they may include in their lives.
So someone may get a ticket saying, “ You have crossed the Limits of Faith”
And yet someone else may get “You have overcome the Limits of Faith”
…That each one of us is equally responsible for what happened and how we move from here.
Overcoming a limit is a positive sign so the ticket will be in green and crossing a limit would be in red. The ticket/sticker would be the size of a boarding pass in Hindi or in English, or in just Marathi and English.
The work will also be visible / interactive after dark. As the new plan of the area shows that there will be lighting all along the periphery of the area, the translucence of the glass will add another dimension to the area. As the light coming in from certain directions will help the work have a presence in the courtyard and inter-activeness. The reflections and refraction would change all day depending on the sun and would almost reverse in the evening giving the work a new life!
The Limits as engraved on the turnstiles in both Hindi and English in order are-
1. The Limits of Dreams
2. The Limits of Desire
3. The Limits of Love
4. The Limits of Faith
5. The Limits of Hate
6. The Limits of Fear
7. The Limits of Space
8. The Limits of Madness
9. The Limits of Sacrifice
10. The Limits of Memory
11. The Limits of the Living
12. The Limits of Power
13. The Limits of Control
14. The Limits of a Crowd
15. The Limits of the Other
16. The Limits of Tolerance
17. The Limits of Revolt
18. The Limits of Lying
19. The Limits of Noise
20. The Limits of Sight
21. The Limits of Chaos
22. The Limits of Apathy
23. The Limits of Conceit
24. The Limits of Money
25. The Limits of Poverty
26. The Limits of Filth.
27. The Limits of Land
28. The Limits of Water
29. The Limits of the Sea
30. The Limits of Reclamation
Originally I had thought of placing my work at the entrance of the Museum, as that would be ideal in terms of the number of people coming/walking, confronting the work. It would have somehow invited the people into the museum. (Part of the work could have continued inside the museum).
But since that space is unavailable I have placed my work at the back courtyard of the museum just as one would enter the area, hence a certain layout of the turnstiles starting with ‘Dreams” As Mumbai is “City of dreams!” even though nobody counts the unfulfilled dreams!!! And then continue on to the other ‘Limits’ going on to ‘Tolerance’ and then on to “Reclamation at the end.
LAYOUT PLAN FOR TURNSTILES
Examples of tickets/stickers (3.25x8inches)-
‘ You have crossed the Limits of Faith “
“You have overcome the Limits of Faith “
Tickets/stickers as they would be generated –
1. You have crossed the limits of dreams
You have overcome the limits of dreams
2. You have crossed the limits of desire
You have overcome the limits of desire
3. You have crossed the limits of love
You have overcome the limits of love
4. You have crossed the limits of faith
You have overcome the limits of faith
5. You have crossed the limits of hate
You have overcome the limits of hate
6. You have overcome the limits of fear
7. You have crossed the limits of space
You have overcome the limits of space
8. You have crossed the limits of madness
You have overcome the limits of madness
9. You have crossed the limits of sacrifice
You have overcome the limits of sacrifice
10. You have crossed the limits of memory
You have overcome the limits of memory
11. The limits of the living
You have overcome the limits of the living
12. You have crossed the limits of power
You have overcome the limits of power
13. You have crossed the limits of control
You have overcome the limits of control
14. You have crossed the limits of a crowd
You have overcome the limits of a crowd
15. You have crossed the limits of the other
You have overcome the limits of the other
16. You have crossed the limits of tolerance
You have overcome the limits of tolerance
17. You have crossed the limits of revolt
You have overcome the limits of revolt
18. You have crossed the limits of lying
19. You have crossed the limits of noise
You have overcome the limits of noise
20. You have limited the vision.
You have overcome the limits of vision.
21. You have crossed the limits of chaos
You have overcome the limits of chaos
22. You have crossed the limits of apathy
You have overcome the limits of apathy
23. You have crossed the limits of conceit
You have overcome the limits of conceit
24. You have crossed the limits of money
You have overcome the limits of money
25. You have crossed the limits of poverty
You have overcome the limits of poverty
26. You have reached the limits of filth.
27. You have reached the limits of land
28. You have reached the limits of water
29. You have reached the limits of the sea
30. You have reached the limits of reclamation