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Long before the age of globalisation and the internet, India was an axial point for international trade through which the East-West commerce in aromatics, spices, textiles, and other luxuries passed. This position allowed for not just the creation of wealthy economies and trade networks but also for active exchanges of ideologies, artistic traditions, traditional knowledge systems and practices.

‘India Global’ represents an India, especially post Independence, where new forms, materials, ideas and ways of being coalesce, the old and new coexisting side by side, sparring with one another and more often than not, erupting into fantastic hybrids, at once global and local.

In this dialogue, cities become an important stage where a vast human drama constantly unfolds, constantly in a state of flux, adapting to innumerable forces influencing its act.  ‘India Global’ is conceptualised as a window that opens for the visitor to access this humanscape within the urban landscape.




The aerial map of Mumbai that Akshay Rajpurkar createed out of waste material draws our eyes to different, familiar parts of the city. Much like it drew Rajpurkar to areas of Mumbai like Lower Parel, Dharavi, Kurla and the Chor Bazaar flea market at Grant Road. In a quest for the specific types of the discarded materials, he wanted to use everyday objects such as newspapers, packets of chewing tobacco and gutka, chocolate wrappers as his medium. "I'd gone to Chor Bazaar in the hope of finding factories where foil wrappers were being manufactured for wafers, chocolate, candies or tobacco products in the hope of being able to buy such materials in bulk. By sheer serendipity, I came across some old circuit boards lying on the floor. It instantly struck me how much they resemble maps of cities, with neatly demarcated grids and paths," he says. Referencing from architect PK Das's book 'Open Mumbai', as well as Google Earth images of Mumbai which shows roadways, shifts in terrain, green pockets of the city, views of skyscrapers, shanties, nullahs and rivers. He created a map that everyone could read; that showed the diversity of Mumbai's built forms, and the way the city has grown over a period of time. At a glance people should be able to see the whole city as if it was being viewed aerially," said Rajpurkar. Composed as a series of grids, the artist's version of Mumbai and its suburbs is painstakingly detailed so as to allow viewers to instantly recognise familiar sights and terrain. Juhu beach is represented by sawdust and yellow buttons; Dharavi, by small chips cut to size; Bandra and the Diamond Market by the gold circuit boards of cellphones and satellite receivers; Marine Lines and the Queens Necklace, by cut chips; and the Bandra-Worli sea link, by circuit boards from which parts have been removed. Wires cut from circuits denote rivers, pasted in bunches to suggest the flow of water and likewise, battery cells form towers. Green circuits stripped off ductile metals aspire to being mangrove forests, and bottle-cap clusters populate industrial zones. The sea is represented by a mass of factory-manufactured buttons that were produced en masse for the once thriving mill industries in the Girangaon area of Lower Parel, Mumbai; now discarded, they indirectly represent urbanisation and its consumer culture, an important aspect of the history of any city.



A voracious reader, Nayar's fascination with what lies beneath the surface of things draws on sources other than science. Roman poet-philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus surmised in his poem De Rerum Natura (The Nature of Things), 200 years ago that a larger level of phenomenon arose because something smaller was moving such as the dust particles. “Scientific images of experiments show that our world is not still but is in a state of flux. There is a seeming solidity and mass to the things around us but the deeper reality is that all matter is in movement at its most basic level. It is this reality that I have tried to engage with and depict in my work," says Nayar. "There has been this process of evolution in response to the site ... I was clear the work needed to be about Bombay in some way as well as about the airport. After all, it is an enclosed space with a particular interiority, and then there is the exteriority of the planes coming in and the passengers leaving. Then there is the act of flight or of movement through space.” What eventually came together was the story of a flight. At the heart of the work is a seedpod, its womb-like interior opening to release pollen grains. Nature's carriers, pollen are metaphors for exchange, travel and synergies. The large energy stream of whirling lines are derived from the photographs of particle colliders which resemble vapour trails left by airplanes or celebratory fireworks. The drawing consists of 31 individually crafted sculptural pieces, each with graphite markings on high-density fibreboard. The drawing is worked entirely in pencil on wood using the pointillist technique, with marks made over and over again. “A lot of what I do is pencil on wood so there is no erasure possible. You either live with the mistake, incorporate it in the work or see it as a happy mistake. If it is really bad, you have to scrape the board and start all over again. Even though planning is intrinsic to the work, there is a certain controlled chaos that one has to be in tune with. Here, I have used the pointillist technique, with marks made over and over again. It is meditative and mechanical in that it is both time-consuming and laborious. But in a world of fast food where everything is 'Instant, Instant, Instant' is going to take its own time and follow its own process to become real. Its reification can be hurried along by working longer hours but beyond a certain limit, it cannot be rushed. I like that a part of my work is the complete antithesis to popular culture," concludes Nayar. Irregular in shape, its forms resemble an inverted map of Bombay. Nayar deliberately chose maps from different periods of Bombay's history leading to the present - ranging from early navigational charts to Google maps, charting the evolution of Mumbai from seven islands into a city of growth, trade, and transition. "It talks not in an obvious way but in a deeper, layered manner of the transition of Bombay from a port to a metropolis," says Nayar. "I wanted to express the exuberance of flight and the energy of Mumbai, as a focal point, a centre, a punctum, a place that emits and receives energy, of it being a place that has grown by welcoming many peoples and civilizations and allowing them to go on their way again.



CHARMI SHAH Living in Ghatkopar ... there are many old wadis that have been pulled down to make way for new high-rises, a phenomenon that fits in well with the overarching theme (of how globalization is affecting the city)," says Charmi Gada Shah. "I often base my work on the buildings I find, working from three or four sketches and photographs. This installation was no different" says the artist, whose work revolves around memory and loss evoked in the demolition of old structures. Composing the images of building modules into layered structures, Shah creates assemblages in which the built forms are caught up as though in the pain of change that is on occasion, a gentle erosion of time and more often, a literal and metaphoric sledgehammer. Thus, one sees walls being knocked down, windows being blocked, doors being weathered, the paint on the walls peeling, buildings morphing into versions of themselves while others are completely erased and replaced by newer buildings that bear no resemblance to the original. "Each city has its own character, but globalisation tends to remove these differences and introduces a degree of similitude or homogeneity. This, to me, reflects a loss of cultural moorings." It took a year, a number of exploratory drawings, models, and discussions with the curatorial and design team to detail her initial concept of a work based on the abandoned buildings in and around Ghatkopar. This large assemblage of torn walls and left over patina of the interiors exposed speaks of lives lived and now moved on. "This work is a reflection on time and memory. And at another level, a reconstruction of pasts that will soon be forgotten," says the artist.



Nataraj Sharma’s ‘CONSTRUCT’, is a comment on the mammoth scale of construction that is sweeping across metropolises all over India, in recent years. A still life and landscape, the building rebounds Sharma’s wit and gravitas as well as his sensitivity towards the fraught relationships between urbanization, the environment and the human presence. And, at perhaps, a more metaphysical level, of what is enduring and what is ephemeral. Sharma says, “Over the last 20 years when I have been visiting Gurgaon, I have witnessed its extraordinary transformation from parched agricultural land into a geometric jungle of urgent, vertical growth.” During this period, and certainly more so in recent years, the artist photographed and drew sketches of large construction projects, especially those still in process. “I found a particular poignancy in half built buildings,” explains Sharma. From these images, Sharma focused on the exposed skeleton of the building, the strong grid within the structure of these buildings that reveals the logic of their construction, repeating it vertically (almost endlessly). The grid has long fascinated Sharma as a visual and structural device but with this work the artist states, “I also recognized that the grid has multiple meanings – it's a tool for planning, structuring and defining volume. It works as a skin on the surface of the object. The grid by its nature is perfect and precise. The purity of a grid line, like the light of a laser, carries an emotive load. It can also imprison.” For ‘Construct’, Sharma singled out photographs of a particular building, selecting from these images of one section. He then worked with an architecture student to approximate from these images a plan of the section. This was followed by a wooden model, of the ground and first floors, that was translated later into iron. “This work is also made in multiple units, which allows for many variations in its final form. ‘Construct’ demanded as large a scale as possible – I needed the sense of being dwarfed by this tower,” said Sharma. “At the same time detail and veracity was also important – of fragile grills, staircases, balconies – the texture of unplastered walls that made one come closer and realize that it is you who is the larger. This push and pull of scale was exciting” Ever since Nataraj Sharma witnessed an airshow in Vadodara in 2004, where the Surya Kiran, an aerobatics demonstration team of the Indian Airforce swooped the skies, displaying their skills, he has been "mesmerized by these machines of destruction. The grace with which they flew through the air and the terrifying noise they produced gripped me. Beauty and violence, play and aggression were revealed before our eyes. It was a very profound experience for me, noting their beauty while being intensely aware of the terrible destruction that these machines are capable of." "Shortly after, Sharma made an oil painting on canvas titled 'Air Show'. "After I completed the painting, I felt compelled to transfer this work into three-dimension. While I was working on 'Air Show', I was also doing a series of landscapes and aerial views using the grid format. Something about the wonderful structure that visual grids provide, a form on which the interpretation can be expressed, attracts me. Grids also provide a sort of rhythm to the work. Often the grid seems at odds with what it contains, a foil against the unpredictability of nature," said Sharma. "Urban life is also based on a grid, one that is rigid and inflexible." As seen here, planes fly through the grid in a smooth, graceful line, not the pristine red and white of the Surya Kirans though: the artist has rendered them rawer and organic in surface decay. "The works are very manual, earthy and labour intensive, they are not very high-tech and this is the Indian reality that I wanted to reflect. The rust is a natural element of the artwork - that is, as long as it stays on the surface-level," says Sharma. "Once these units, made of mild steel, have been fabricated, they are sandblasted and that removes all the rust. They are spray painted with automotive varnish and this protects it from moisture so it lasts for generations," says Sharma. To begin with all the planes were carved in wood, then these were sand-cast into single pieces of aluminium and from that multiple planes were cast in stainless steel in Baroda. Interestingly, the work is not located in a particular city although it presents the contemporary experience of India. "It is not specifically Mumbai or Baroda, though the experience came from Baroda. I would say that the impact of the work is much wider," said Sharma. The work also has a timeless quality and could be applicable to any time in history since it talks about the eternal duality of terror and beauty, the awareness of which intensifies the experience. Summing up, Sharma said, "The work doesn't take a judgemental or moralistic position, it is ambiguous. Where I am positioning this work depends on the mindset of the viewer. One can see it as either a critique or in praise of something. There, is no singular view point.



Saris crafted from bottlecaps have become Sharmila Samant's calling card stylistically. 'The Handmade Coca-Cola Sari' she created in 1999 using Coca-Cola crowns linked with metal shackles, was based on the Bengali Tangail saris worn by women in Calcutta during the annual puja. Sawant's sari also followed the traditional language of the pallu, border, and motifs. Invoking the cottage industries that produce such artisanal textiles in the subcontinent in its composition and motifs, Sawant's sari nevertheless clearly denotes the infusion of Western capitalism into India and the pervasion of mass- produced commodities such as Coca-cola in developing countries. "The projects I undertake involve eclectic collecting, documenting and recycling of urban debris, looking at the mundane and the profane," she says. "Since it is at the airport and the overarching theme was flight, I have used the seven vahanas (vehicles) of the Saptamatrikas, the seven Hindu mother goddesses," said the artist of her seven 'saris' featuring the hansa or swan, the elephant Irawat, the mayur or peacock, Nandi the bull, the multi-hooded snake Sheshnag , the eagle Garuda, and the owl or ulooka. The iconography and style of the vahanas has been referenced from varied artistic sources such as folk renditions in Kalamkari, Madhubani and leather puppetry to Egyptian hieroglyphics." "I choose the Saptamatrikas because seven is an auspicious number across world mythologies ... The symbolism of the Heptads also comes from the seven islands of Bombay," said Samant. The tapestries when fully assembled were mounted onto cylindrical pillars that subtly rotate, lending the work a kinetic element as well as a play of light. The upper and lowermost section of each tapestry is rendered in the colour associated to the goddess whose vehicle is depicted. Creating this work was a collaborative effort. The 'task force' consisted of pub waiters, who helped collect the crowns of the bottle-caps, and scrap collectors who pick up these caps as waste, to sell by weight, characteristic of any large city's recycling process. Jewellery makers who temporarily worked as spot boys, were skilled enough to delicately drill four holes in each cap so shackles could be inserted and in turn used to fasten the cap to another, thus forming a tapestry. The team follows Samant's computer-generated pattern charts that map the desired forms onto an elaborate grid of coloured squares; each square in the chart represents one bottle cap colour. The caps were also powder-coated to make them somewhat resistant to rust. "It is interesting that this process gave birth to alternative units of production and generated employment among a task force that was different from the assembly line of the bottling factory of the soft drink companies. In a sense it is a counter culture of production and a critique of sorts," said Samant.



"In 'Nocturnal Metropolis' Roy presents the city as a diptych. One section of the composition is a sweeping panorama of Bombay fanning out around the iconic Queen's necklace, as though viewed while drifting with the clouds. The electronic lights of the city twinkle in the gloaming, and the cacophony of its congested streets subside into a dream-like reverie from this distance. "I am looking at the space compositionally, creating a heightened sense of drama through the use of perspective and depth. Take for instance, the receding view of Nariman Point where the skyline meets the sea. The sea, land, and sky meet each other in a dynamic swirl - to me, that is typical of Bombay, a city that is constantly playing with reclaimed land ... I used a large resource of research material while composing this work to ensure the scenery is populated by an ample number of iconic landmarks that the varied audience at the airport will be able to identify and use as references to map the city. Despite this, the scenery is not an exact replica of Bombay," says Roy. The other section of the composition derives from a suite of watercolour urbanscapes Roy painted in 2007. Titled 'Rear Window', these were facades of high-rise apartments, their windows framing illuminated interiors. But as in Roy's previous works, both the city and the vignettes - theatres of middleclass life and aspiration - are devoid of human presence. The overwhelming impression is of an elaborate stage set, each element a prop loaded with symbolism Although the moment captured may be perfectly inconsequential, there is this uneasy sensation of witnessing the aftermath of something momentous when the actors have all abruptly departed the stage. Or perhaps, there is nothing amiss and this is a moment pregnant with possibility, anticipating the actors' arrival or return. unpeopled and uncanny, it is pregnant with possibility, anticipating the actors' arrival or return. Using a restricted range of colours and nuanced washes of paint, Roy succeeds in evoking both a sense of oppressive emptiness and transience. the vantage point from which these scenes are painted place the viewer at a window in a nearby building - probably much like the one depicted - peering voyeuristically into these homes, privy to the most intimate scenes. Even amidst a congested metropolis, the viewer is alone. The sensation of witnessing something fleeting is emphasized by Roy's decision to depict the city at the onset of dusk: "The hour I chose to paint is dusk. In India this is the hour when the cows come home, known as 'Gaudhuli' in Bengali. It is the cusp of night and day, potent with the meeting of two very contrasting energies. You have a bit of both - the light and the darkness, order and chaos. It is metaphoric, and is apt for Bombay, even though it holds true for any urbanscape."



Vishaka Apte's work for the Mumbai International Airport dwells on the impact of globalization, whether it manifests in an obvious physical form viz. the altering urbanscape or in the psyche of the urban dweller. As in her previous body of work, Apte expresses complex ideas such as the altered social and cultural landscape of middle class India through images of mundane objects. "My work, since 1987, has always been concentrated on man-made objects that I found around me, mostly in closed spaces," explains the artist. Although human figures are never seen in Apte's compositions, the objects depicted are animated by human presence and intervention. In turn, they enliven the atmosphere of the space represented ... A sheet of paper, used and crumpled, thrown on the floor. A book lies open to a specific page, as though just put down by a reader. The creases of a mattress, the folds of a dress ... each of these everyday minutiae suggests specific narratives of events experienced or witnessed. "It is about depicting objects and things scattered around me. These ordinary, homely objects become part of the pictorial space and in doing so, acquire a different life," says Apte. In this work, Apte chose inner and outer windows as a key visual element, framing views of walls and rooms, many of which appear to be in a state of disrepair."With all the demolition and rebuilding around my home, I realised there was no mud in sight. Instead, all around us there was cement - bags piled high, mixers, and construction. That is why cement bags and high stools make an appearance in my work, as do the tents of the construction workers." Apte's work consists of a series of 22 collographs of variable sizes. Collography is a printmaking process in which materials are applied to a rigid surface such as paperboard or wood and then inked with a roller or paintbrush. An imprint of this 'printing plate' is then taken on paper. "Cardboard, cloth, sandpaper, bubble- wrap, string, grass...anything can be stuck onto the plate," explains Apte. "The surface is coated with fevicol so the ink doesn't soak into the plate. Then it is covered with enamel paint and readied for printing. Sometimes one does not feel the necessity of taking a print. The work seems complete in itself. I've included 'plates' like this in my paintings.



The lights are critical in this work of Sheetal Gattani. "Bombay is a city that does not sleep. The lights are the guardians of the city in a sense. I can walk on Marine Drive at 3 am and because it is lit, I do not feel as though I am in danger. This is why I chose the title "Sleepless Sentinels' for the work," she explains. When she began her career as a painter in the early 2000s, Sheetal Gattani was an abstractionist who favoured watercolours. As her oeuvre grew to include acrylic, oil paints, found objects, steel, wood and light sculptures, her style proved less easy to bracket. Gattani describes herself as a non-representational artist whose work explores formlessness and colourlessness. Responding to Bombay and the airport, the work interprets the city as seen when landing at night. The sloping rooftops of slums, the crushed box-like forms of tenements and the larger blocks of apartment buildings find expression as 35 painted cubes and cuboids stacked haphazardly over one another. The paint has been applied in Gattani's characteristic style, where paint is scraped away after being layered on, till the desired consistency and texture has been achieved. Initially Gattani worked with Roman text that spelt out certain words, but later on the script become illegible and were used mostly as pure form, "I think for me it also became a metaphor for the cacophony and lack of coherence that is a metaphor for urbanisation," says Gattani. "I also found it liberating to just use the text as form because in a city that is multilingual, one does not speak only in English, hence why should the only language to dominate my canvas be English?" The lights of houses and streets twinkling white and yellow in welcome, a view Gattani likens to 'diamonds scattered on the ground'. The same effect is rendered in Gattani's painted canvas clad boxes by employing concealed LED lights that shine through fine perforations. In many respects, this work speaks of Gattani's bond with the city and its dynamism. "I've lived all my life in Bombay. I don't even know how to live in any other city because in comparison to Bombay all other cities appear static and stagnant to my fond eyes ... Young villagers who migrate to Bombay are absorbed into it within three years - their clothes, hairstyles, and way of speaking altered to match that of the city's denizens ... I travel a lot by public transport and I see on a day-to-day basis that even here, class distinctions are absent. Everyone on the road is equal. It is a particularly endearing quality."



When curator Rajeev Sethi saw patchwork quilts strung on a wire as his car drove through a slum in Mumbai, he was struck by the similarity of the quilts with those made by the Siddi tribe. Most of the Siddis living in India are descended from Southeast Africa, brought to the Indian subcontinent as slaves by Portuguese merchants between the 16th and 19th centuries. Some are descendents of those who came as military mercenaries in the employ of the Arab invaders since the 11th century or imported by local Nawabs during the 15th-16th centuries. Others are descendents of sailors on the trade routes to the east. Independent African diaspora communities were formed by the Siddis in various areas of Karnataka, Gujarat, and Hyderabad. The patchwork quilts known as gudari are the most distinctive expression of the Siddi visual arts. Made by women for family members, gudari are used as sleeping mattresses in warm weather or as covers during the cool, damp monsoon season. Gudari are made of pieces of old, worn-out clothing gathered by the quilters from family, friends, or purchased in the local used-clothing market. When the women have enough to make a quilt, they purchase a cotton sari to be used as the backing for the quilt. Starting at one corner - or if working in a group, the edges of the quilt - they begin to work their way around, fixing the patches with a running back stitch that eventually covers the entire quilt, uniting the patchwork top and the sari base. The stitches exhibit a distinctive rhythm, which, along with the selection of colours, sizes, shapes and designs of the cloth patches form the 'visual signature' of Siddi quilting. For example, small squares or rectangular patches of brightly coloured cloth may be placed on top of other larger patches in contrasting colours. Each corner of the quilt may be ornamented with one or more folded square patches that form a multilayered triangle. The use of the herringbone stitch, inspired by sparrow's feet, is another characteristic of the Siddi quilt. Worked in squares, it forms a ghar or square representing a house is formed. Sethi decided to use the quilts as a backdrop for the artist Nek Chand's work. Befitting, because it echoes the theme of thrift and recyclability of discarded objects that is reflected not just in Nek Chand's sculptures crafted from broken ceramics but also in Sharmila Samant's screens fashioned from bottle caps and Akshay Rajpurkar's map of Mumbai made with discarded buttons. The task of creating the quilted installation spanning 200 feet x 11 feet fell to Niket Deshpande and Tapan Mittal-Deshpande, the husband and wife duo whose architectural firm TMD has been working closely with the curator on the Mumbai airport artwork program since its inception.