Kala Ghoda festival will be back to enthral Mumbai from Feb 3 | Hindustan Times
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Kala Ghoda festival will be back to enthral Mumbai from Feb 3

The eight-day fest begins this Saturday, and this year’s theme is nature; enjoy art installations, performances, heritage walks, and more

mumbai Updated: Jan 30, 2018 09:12 IST
Anesha George
The fun begins this Saturday, with the festival stretching from February 3 to 11.
The fun begins this Saturday, with the festival stretching from February 3 to 11.(Satish Bate/HT )

Installations that reach for the skies, deforestation captured in a series of photographs, history revisited on foot… there’s tonnes to look forward to at the Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2018 (KGAF). The fun begins this Saturday, with the festival stretching from February 3 to 11.

“The broad theme is Nature, and it has prompted tremendous interest and inspiration among artistes,” says Tarana Khubchandani, curator of the visual arts section.

In keeping with the theme, Hetal Shukla will be back with a new Ambassador installation. “Shukla brings his Ambassador to KGAF every year, paying tribute to the iconic vehicle while raising a pertinent issue each time,” says Khubchandani.

Last year he covered the car in faux fur in an attempt to start a conversation about global warming and saving the polar bear. “This year, he will be covering half the car with foliage and the rest with army fatigue material, to question whether we are moving towards conserving nature, or fighting it,” Khubchandani says.

A total of 55 installations will be spread across Rampart Row and Cross Maidan. Among them will be Skyward by ceramic artist Shayonti Salvi and metal sculptor Archita Shah, a comment on how concrete is overpowering greenery with skyscrapers and slums piled one on another, reaching for the skies. This art work will take the shape of a giant tree, its branches heavy with terracotta houses of all types — jhuggis, chawls, flats and skyscrapers, to reflect the burden of too many people on too little space, and the strain this puts on the city’s remaining greenery.

Kalava Movement (Kalava is Sanskrit for sacred thread), a photo art project by Vikram Arora, seeks to highlight the crisis of urban deforestation.

And Memory Pillar by Smriti Dixit, a reflection of the objects most commonly found near trees in the city — including idols, photographs, books, lamps and discarded items. “This is an expression of all that we let go of in life and leave for nature to take care of,” Dixit says. “It also represents the connections between these faceless people, unknown to each other, but linked through objects and memories of objects that they were once emotionally attached to.”

TAKE A WALK

The theme for the heritage walks section is Bombay as it was, and Mumbai as we want it to be.

“We’ll be focusing on forgotten aspects of the city’s past,” says curator Kruti Garg. “For example not many people know that Bombay Green is not just something we aspire to, but was an actual spot in the Bombay of the 17th century.”

The Horniman Circle gardens area were fondly known as Bombay Green, because that is essentially what it was — a vast expanse of greenery. “Over the years, buildings started closing in, most of the greenery disappeared and the name was forgotten,” Garg says.

Discover something new about your city by pedalling around on a bicycle, hitching a ride on a breezy open-top buses or simply walking around tree-lined south Mumbai neighbourhoods. “We will be exploring some rare and unique trees and water bodies that tell us about the city’s history and heritage too,” says Garg. “Participants can also trace the edges of what constituted the original Bombay island on a bicycle, among a total of 18 tours lined up for the festival.”

Lawyer Anne Thomas, 27, who has been manning the heritage walk helpdesk for six years, says the walks are such big crowd-pullers that she usually has to have a couple of informal bouncers around by 2 pm, when people line up to collect passes. “I’ve met people from Gujarat and Delhi who specifically come for these Mumbai Darshan tours with a twist,” she adds, laughing. “The enthusiasm people have Mumbai is so heartening, it’s what brings me back as a volunteer every year. When we are out of tickets, people come up with the strangest arguments… one woman told me her daughter needed to go on the tour to complete an assignment on Mumbai’s heritage!”