The Mohile Parikh Center For The Visual Arts, NCPA and the Asiatika, in association with the Ashok Kumar Foundation organized a public art intervention event, “U N T I T L E D -a show on the boundaries” in the premises of the Asiatic Society, Town Hall, from March 20-31, 2004. As part of the bicentenary celebrations of the Asiatic Society, the Asiatika Project, primarily conceived as a heritage walk in and around the Town Hall in the Fort area aimed to revitalize the physical space of the Asiatic society and to engage in critically understanding the historical, scholarly, cultural and intellectual heritage of the Society.
Since the core idea is one that aims to reach the wider public, to create an awareness of a monument significant in Mumbai’s intellectual and cultural history, Art, here becomes another significant way to enhance the concepts inherent in the Asiatika project. Such projects align with the strategies of the Mohile Parikh Center for the Visual Arts in organizing relevant and participatory projects in various public spaces. The intent is to inform, educate and create a holistic art intervention plan that will be accessible to the public from diverse fields, thereby implicating the socially constructive role of art.
In this context, two site-specific mix-media art projects were displayed in two specific spaces of the Society. The artists were Vidya Kamat and Sharmila Samant and their installations were titled “Tolerating Intolerance” and ‘In-scribed’ respectively. These artists are critically engaging with the concept of art in public spaces and challenging the hierarchic constructs of high/low art and private/public spaces. This art intervention sought to establish a more vital artist-society interaction.
On the inaugural day of the event, the heritage walk was followed by a participatory performance, ‘Bombay Punch-i-karana’ conceptualized by the artists, which involved the ritualistic/symbolic washing of the town hall steps, and issued an open invitation to the public in the form of inscriptions on take-away cushions, which were to be left on the town hall steps. The performance was flagged off by leading artists and intellectuals of the city and people from diverse fields participated in the event.