The hidden history

'Project 560'

The hidden history

Bengaluru, with a growing number of art enthusiasts, has found a strong voice for itself and is thriving to tell its glorious stories through various art projects.

     The very recent ‘Project 560’ (560 being the pin code of Bengaluru), is an initiative of India Foundation for the Arts, which has joined hands with many artistic collectives to tell the stories of places that have contributed to the arts and culture of the City.

One such story, which is part of this project, narrated in an inspiring tone, is that of a 110-year-old Mohan. As you stride through the busy lanes of Chickpet, you cannot ignore Mohan, who is standing tall with many stories hidden in his heart. His silence is now broken with the architectural professionals of Klatsch Collective giving him an inexorable voice.

“This project is all about how you can re-imagine found spaces in the City. We as a collective are intervening with urban spaces and introducing art in these places to expose people to art in public. As architects, as urbanists and as citizens of Bengaluru, we came to the consensus that it is the spirit of edifices that reflects the identity of old Bengaluru. This is when we felt that Mohan could shine,” says Jeffrey, one of the architects working with Klatsch Collective. 

A centenary old building, as you climb the stairs of Mohan, there are photographs of people (mostly vendors) who had made Mohan their home. Stepping into the mesmerising interiors, there is a picture of Mr Sait, who imbibed his DNA into this building back in 1905 and named it Ahmed. The first room to the right represents how, the now Mohan, is alive and watching everyone through his windows (represented as human eyes). As you move forward, there is a dining table arranged, which takes one back to the good times witnessed by Mohan with Sait’s family who had made him their home.

This way, each room of Mohan yells out his history and later comes on to tell how the building started ageing alone after it was taken over by the Income Tax Department. The last few rooms with cut-outs of the pigeons and sparrows hanging, reflect how Mohan was ageing alone and as Jeffery explains, “His visitors cut down to just sparrows and then the pigeons. They are also taken over by the traffic sounds.” And there plays a recorded disturbing sound of the traffic in the backdrop.

One cannot but leave touched by the story of Mohan, who has found creative hands working on preserving him. The Klatsch Collective group, through this innovative way of telling a building’s story, is persuading the public to help revive this age-old building. Mohan, through these art enthusiasts’ imaginative and artistic hands, is saying, “I am many names and many faces. I am Ahmed. I am Mohan. I am Chickpet. I am Bengaluru. You and I are Bengaluru. Are you listening?”

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