Art Interventions in Public Spaces

Though Mumbai is a hub of the art world and host to a large number of visual artists, the experience of art is confined to a privileged few who visit art galleries and attend lectures, debates, and discussions on art. In recent times, the negotiation of art exhibition spaces, the private/public dichotomy, and the identification of diverse spectators has led many art theorists and practitioners to deal with the theme of art and the public sphere. The information age and the media society have brought about extreme transformations in the characteristics of the public sphere. In a parallel development, an ever clearer understanding by artists of the nature and functioning of various parts of public systems has led to a new approach to the public aspect of art. This change also entails different communicative possibilities for the artwork. We may now consider artworks as placed in a heterogeneous field, where the meanings of the work shift in relation to space, contexts, and publics. Just as there is no ideal, complete work there is no ideal, generalized spectator. Moving out of the gallery space, and critically negotiating the private/public opposition, artists now involve themselves in the multiplicity of public systems and develop configurations that relate to patterns of practical activity in the everyday world, leading to a dematerialization and/or expansion of art practices.

The Mohile Parikh Center has over the years contributed to creating a dynamic space in Mumbai, generating discussion on a wide range of contemporary topics in the NCPA. One of our primary aims has been to consciously involve the larger public in our programs which are open to all. We seek to move beyond composite spaces and organize innovative, relevant, and participatory projects in various public spaces. This is aimed to inform, educate, and make varied art forms and practices accessible to the residents of Mumbai in the hope that these public art projects contribute to the city’s life and people’s use and enjoyment of public spaces.

The MPC will identify places in Mumbai for such interventions like the open spaces of parks, city squares, waterfronts and streets, public buildings such as airports, railway stations, hospitals, libraries, and public markets, and also private and municipal schools, office and hotel lobbies, and shopping malls. We plan to collaborate with various private and public sector agencies to determine how public art might contribute to a project, meet the public’s needs, and make public spaces active and successful. Moreover, by encouraging a range of art initiatives, we hope to explore different modes of producing and engaging with art, in a kind of reciprocal interaction between artist and public.