It was sometime during the Second World War that the term 'Blow Horn' was coined. But interestingly, in present day India, we find these iconic words almost everywhere on the road. "It is like following a norm. Isn't it?" questions artist Puja Bahri, 38, who after a hiatus of six years is opening her solo in the Capital today.
Titled, Blow Horn, the show is inspired by life on Indian roads, and exhibits paintings, sculptures with video installation and a performance video.
In 2011, Bahri dressed like a man and boarded a truck in the wee hours. Accompanied by a male photographer friend, Bahri spent half a day with the truck driver and shared his space right from having a beedi with him to eating a meal at a road-side dhaba.
"At first, I was conscious about wearing a wig and make-up. But by the time we reached the transport office, I got comfortable in my skin. I just withdrew from what I am as a person and took on my new role."
The experimentation resulted in a stop motion performance video titled 'Blow Horn' that Bahri exhibited in New York the following year. "I had a mixed response to my video. Some people were shocked, some were surprised. Women told me it was very gutsy of me to do something like this," says Bahri.
The same video debuts in Delhi with Bahri's current show, which also has three very interesting life-sized multi-media sculptural installations with in-built videos. "The videos were shot in Chandni Chowk and feature the reality of the chaos and life in narrow lanes and streets of India."
Inspired by street vendors and rural migrants, the sculptures' faces are replaced by traffic lights.
"It's a representation of people who spend their lives on the roads and are perceived as non-entities in a crowd." After her solo in Bangalore in 2010, Bahri decided to take a break from painting and pursue photography. She travelled to Ladakh, Varanasi and Rajasthan.
"I met and photographed a variety of people and each of them had a unique character. These people inspired me to paint again."
Bahri has ten untitled photo realistic paintings on display that follow the same line of work - life on Indian streets.
Catch it live
What: Blow Horn, an art show
On till: September 18
Timings: 11am to 7pm
Where: Chawla Art Gallery, Square One Mall, Saket
NEAREST METRO STATION: Saket on the Yellow Line