Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Still in Baroda, Thrill in Baroda- A Report

‘Thrilling, Chilling, Killing’, Rekha Rodiwittiya selected the words carefully from the collection of stickers that she brought in her work bag. The small little glittering tigers came off from their temporary abode of sticking papers and started roaring from the walls. Rekha took them one by one and made them to behave. She worked around first slowly, then fast along a tongue in cheek sticker work pasted on the wall by the young artist Bhrigu Sharma. Slowly, Bhrigu’s ‘Spot the Difference’ work became an island and around it Rekha made the ocean of god heads from different religions, Christianity, Sikhism, Hinduism and Islam.

Rekha was working at the ‘Still in Baroda, Thrill in Baroda’ project conceptualized by me at the Art Home Studios, directed by Asit Shah in Baroda. The sticker work created by Rekha was an emphasis on the unity in diversity philosophy adopted by the city of Baroda; a city that became an abode of artists and cultural communities. There was a tangential comment on the pogroms that Gujarat had witness during the yester years. But the call was for harmony and unity, through the language of art. One could read out the tigers as tigers in political maneuverings and as the ferocious creatures that accompany her protagonists. The comment was subtle but effective.

The sticker project that attempted to look at Baroda as a city of artistic attractions, a place that defines the features of Indian contemporary art, an abode of many artists and cultural activists, above all the seat of one of the prime art institutions in India. Since morning artists started coming in and they began using the industrially produced stickers collected by the Art Home team and choosing to create their comments on the city of Baroda. I am not an artist. But I selected the images of the rabbit and tortoise from the host of stickers and stuck them on the wall. I wrote on it, ‘A Parable of Art and Art Criticism- Who will win the race?’

It was a playful act. But soon the artists were at work. A day before, Alok Bal had done a work that emphasized his involvement in the game of football. He has a football club called XYZ Club in Baroda. The first sticker became a connection between the art of art and art of football. Somu Desai did a Banyan Tree graphically out of stickers. Minal Damani selected the frames of the used stickers. Preksha T, Lochan U, Shilpa, Pramesh Surti, Bhrigu Sharma, Heena Mistry, Nabneeta, Namrata Shah, Chintan, B.V.Shweta, Amarnath, Sanket, Chetan, Probal Ghosh, Amarnath Sharma, Sheetal, Danashree, Malvika Rajnarayan, Sajeev Visweswaran, Rajesh, Apurba Nandi, Sushma Shekhon, Shiv Varma, Jitendra Bowni, Piyush Patra, Sona Tina, the XYZ Football team members and many more did their works. Soon the Art Home Studio filled with sticker work and more works.

By 6 pm, it was the time to do the formal release of ‘Untitled’, a documentary on veteran artist Jeram Patel directed by me. Rekha Rodwittiya spoke a little about the sticker project and her association with the city of Baroda. Jyoti Bhatt officially released the documentary by giving a copy to Jeram Patel. The function was attended by the luminaries like Prof.Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Nilima Sheikh, Jyotsna Bhatt, Nagji Patel, Surendran Nair, Vasudevan Akkitham, B.V.Suresh, Nandu Bhai, Jayaram Poduval, Prof.Ajayakumar, Manisha Doshi, Gargi Raina, Naina Dalal and many others. The young artists came in groups from all over Baroda. Later the documentary was screened for a host of four hundred strong crowd.

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