A project by Hamdasti
20 May – 23 July 2016
Mumbai Art Room
Supported by Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation
How does one pack up a practice that has been rooted in a place? In moving from the historic neighbourhood of Chitpur, Kolkata to an art space in Colaba, Mumbai, the artists of Hamdasti have been digging through bags and boxes collected over three years of work, contemplating what they have to leave behind. Without the people and the places that made the project possible, without a local audience and its familiarity with local history, what remains could appear as if it were merely a self-referential archive of redundant objects. As they pack and repack the 15kg suitcase, they are confronted with an inevitable question: do social art projects have any agency or relevance beyond the context to which they are committed?
The exhibition at Mumbai Art Room acknowledges this loss, and a practice, now shifted from its site, undergoes a transformative process of reflection, abstraction, and re-appropriation. A series of seven discrete objects brought into the gallery relinquish and regain specificity. Some were found and carry a deep history; some are propositions that were designed with the community as catalysts for conversations; the works invite the viewer to interact and this is how they accrue significance. As traces of these lived experiences and collaborative experiments take form, Chitpur Local brings distanced realities into a shared narrative through its own displacement in Bombay. If the display of art is a call for engagement, then this exhibition gestures to the gallery as a space for intersubjective negotiations. And, through a programme of events, activates a forum for the production of new meanings.