Earlier this month, Lower Parel’s The Loft celebrated its third anniversary by bringing in an unusual feast. Instead of paintings and sculptures, the gallery put forth a display of lavish French cuisine rustled up by Churchgate eatery, Chez Vous. The works showcased were not for diners, but art connoisseurs who were interested in viewing food as art.
This week, in a bid to increase footfalls during the rainy season, another south Mumbai gallery is looking beyond the staple offerings. Ballard Estate’s Matthieu Foss Gallery will turn into a library for ten days, starting August 16, with street artist Apnavi Thakkar’s latest experiment, titled Dog Eared.
“It’s a sort of social experiment for me. With Dog Eared, I want to be able to create a platform, which eliminates our common medium of exchange (that is money), while enhancing a more human exchange through books,” says Thakkar. For now, the artist is busy collecting books that people are willing to donate. Next week, the collection will be on display for visitors who can browse through the titles in the gallery and after ten days, exchange their donated work for someone else’s. “People who don’t want to donate are also welcome to browse through the collection. However, the system is based on barter; and at the end of the project, donors are invited to select and keep the same number of books that they had initially contributed,” she explains.
Once considered unapproachable and elitist, the art world has most recently opened up to everything from hand-carved skateboards to music performances. Ask gallery owner Matthieu Foss whether it’s the season slump that allows for these distractions and he points out, “Galleries are blank spaces, so it’s up to us to see what we can accommodate. I agree that it would be difficult to let out the space during the art season, but I found the idea (Thakkar’s book camp) interesting. It’s like giving tomes a second life.”
The one thing that the curator of this experiment is sure of is that the barter project will steer clear of bestsellers and comic books. “It’s an exchange of knowledge. The book donations form a temporary library for the public to browse through. So we are looking at books on art, photography, poetry and literature,” she adds.
And it doesn’t end here. Bookworms can also watch documentaries on topics close to the subject on display. “We would like to open the art space to a younger audience. Hopefully, events like this will encourage novices to come and visit us,” adds Foss.