A filmi look at cities

Spinning teak wood artworks which resemble firecrackers in their physical form but metaphorically represent the volatile cities we live in; a complex network of PVC Pipes which create a map of sorts and highlight the various cinema halls in a metro; bioscopes and sound installations with telephone instruments of different kinds including an EPABX set and a public telephone among others! Sounds strange? It is.

Bizarre is the word that comes to mind as one takes a first look at Project Cinema City: Research Art and Documentary Practices, a month-long exhibition which is exploring the relationship between cinema and Mumbai.

Curated by filmmaker Madhusree Dutta and Archana Hande, the exhibition focuses on Bollywood, its production processes, Mumbai’s bazaars and the streets that bear the footprint of cinema. The exhibition refers to cities and cinema as twins of 20th century.
The exhibition comprising works by filmmakers, sound artists, architects and visual artists demonstrates the imprint that Hindi cinema has left on Mumbai.

Currently on at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) it was inaugurated by lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar. Well-known and award-winning documentary makers like Paromita Vohra, Avijit Mukul Kishore, Hansa Thapliyal and Pushpamala N are participating.  
Unlike other regular art exhibitions, Project Cinema City engages visitors into the its
3-D art. For instance, there is a settlement, representative of a city which spins on its own axis at the push of a button.

Created by Anant Joshi, this installation is really 100 units of wooden objects rese­m­­bling fire crackers, painted in the idiom of matchbox labels. They create a radiant energy when randomly rotated. According to the artist, this state is similar to that of life in a Metro.
The high speed of the movement makes the objects fleeting yet desirable much like matinee idols who are often referred to as patakas (firecrackers) and psychedelic Bollywood dance sequences.

“In this exhibition, we explore various aspects of Mumbai which has been producing cinema for the last 100 years on an overwhelming scale. We are searching various marks of cinema production in the body of the city. For instance, how Bollywood aspiration affects the migration pattern and determine the demography of the neighbourhoods; how the history and memory of the city is embedded in its cinema and so on,” says

What instantly catches the eye and draws towards itself is a map of made of a network of PVC pipes, graphics, models and moving images. It compiles the marks of cinema on the City through cinema halls.

Then there is a ‘Table of Miscellany’ which compiles photographs, texts and maps. There are sculptors of books as yet unwritten such as Bombay does not have China Town, How to yodel like Kishore Da, How to make a set for Dharavi and How to audition for item number.

These are some of the unique artworks. Even if one does not understand the metaphorical value of these artwork, they are engaging enough for the random visitor.
The exhibition is a part of a larger project titled Cinema City: Research Art and Documentary practices which has studied the pattern of growth of cinema and the city and their mutuality.

“The project aims to work on cinema producing cities. After Mumbai we hope to expand the project to other cinema cities of India such as Chennai, Kolkata and smaller industries such as Malegaon and then other Asian cinema cities,” she says.
More than 60 artists have worked on this project in various capacities over the last four years.

The project has been already been exhibited in Mumbai, Pune and Berlin. It will draw to a close in Delhi on September 23.  

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