Interactive art, visual illusions, performance art and giant installations will greet visitors to the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, which begins on February 1.
One of the highlights of the section’s popular public art space will include a life-sized stainless steel truck bearing 26 sculptures of migrant workers.
Titled Transit, the installation has been created by young artist Valay Shende, 33.
“The work addresses how migrant labourers, who work hard to build the ever-changing, growing city of Mumbai, continue to exist in dismal conditions here,” says Shende. “Nothing has really changed in their lives.”
This work also features videos in place of the truck’s rear-view mirrors, where flickering images depict under-construction buildings, roads, bridges, railway tracks and other infrastructure — reflecting the essential work done by migrants and representing a journey by truck through an under-construction city.
Transit is among a total of 74 art works that will be on display during the nine-day festival, with venues including the public art space and hallowed galleries at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj museum, National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi Art Gallery and Gallery 7.
All the works reflect the theme of this year’s festival — Momentum.
“Many of the artists have approached the central theme by creating works based on the idea of changing perceptions, while others have also explored the idea of change in the architecture and design of the city,” says Hena Kapadia, curator of the visual arts section.
In keeping with this approach, 40 students of the Balwant Sheth School of Architecture will create three installations for the festival. The first work, titled Mithya (Hindi for Illusion), is a walkway where at each step a walker will be met with surprises, which they will realise are all an illusion, says Huzaifa Panvelwala, one of the participating students.
Another installation uses a host of mirrors to capture the movements and mood of the festival. “So whenever a viewer looks into the installation, they will see multiple images of the festival,” says Panvelwala.
The third installation is also a walk, which will recreate the experience of walking on a quiet road surrounded by trees on both sides.
The ability to thus engage with the common man of the city is a driving force for many participating artists. “I have always wanted to show my works at a public space and the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is the perfect platform,” says Shende.
Adds Shovan Shah, an architecture student and second-time volunteer with the visual arts section of the festival: “The reactions I get to the art works, from those who have not been exposed to art is so interesting. They give me insights on what they like and how they think, an important lesson in learning more about the city and designing it.”