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Art entering the everyday

Ambika Ananth, Sep 2, 2012 19:09 IST
art for all A wall in Delhi, beautified by Hulchul.

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life, said Picasso. Yes, Hulchul works to see that art leaves its familiar domain of art galleries, museums, art journals and books and splashes itself on the faces of the people to literally wash away the dust from the unfeeling minds.

By using art to unravel an unpredictable and unforeseeable range of life experience, Hulchul aims to transform the public space from an everyday space which elicits only programmed and numb responses from the common man into a space capable of accommodating human beings in all their superabundant vivacity, colour and vibrancy of spirit.

What exactly is the Delhi-based Hulchul all about? Its Facebook page describes it as ‘a combination of arts and social activism to enable people to experience art as artistic phenomena and to bring about a radical change in the way people perceive, think and act.’

Ankur Betageri, the founder of this avant garde arts and social activist initiative, is a thoroughbred Bangalorean, a bilingual poet, fiction writer, experimental photographer, arts activist and theorist. In the first public art exhibit organised by Hulchul, on March 2, photographs and reproductions of artworks were put up on the walls of Sikandra Road, Mandi House, in spite of stiff opposition by the Delhi Metro security personnel, who claimed that the walls were owned by the DMRC, a public sector company. Hulchul’s plan was to reclaim the space meant for public and to reinstitute art as a revolutionary/political medium, which, it felt, had become a bourgeois ornament: a hyper-precious, auctionable commodity of the ‘art loving’ elite.

Hulchul has an almost religious faith in the power of public spaces; they propose activity under the open sky as a remedy to the soul-killing regimentation and mechanisation of modern life. Their persistent call to people is: ‘Be out on the streets, on the terraces and balconies! Under the open skies, life is a carnival of endless delight!’

In the words of Ankur Betageri, “In 1917, Marcel Duchamp placed a urinal inside the art gallery to shake up the mindlessness and pretentiousness of the art world. In 2012, Hulchul is turning the washroom itself into an art gallery, and holding an entire exhibition under the open skies to combat the tunnel vision and claustrophobia created by the regimentation and monotony of everyday existence.”

He adds, “We are incessantly bombarded by advertising imagery in public spaces that nothing really touches us anymore. My intention is to make people more proactive. At a time when globalisation is making the world ‘flat’ and bringing about a stifling cultural uniformity, it is important to astonish oneself and others by making this world a place full of unexpected treasures. Art should enter the everyday, the day-to-day life of people.
Only then can art and literature become truly transformatory.”

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