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The power of 7,000

What: Artist Atul Dodiya’s latest oeuvre, 7000 Museums: A Project For The Republic Of India, consists of 50 playful interventions, which include eight-poem panels, eight sculptural assemblages in cabinets, nine oil paintings and 30 watercolour artworks. Through these, he refers to the defining moments of history, politics, art and culture along with the semantics of museums and their displays. The artist spent nearly a year working on the exhibits. The exhibition is a continuation of the Dr Bhau Daji Lad City Museum’s curatorial series: Engaging Traditions, which encourages contemporary artists to engage with the museum’s history and its existing collection.

A view of the installations that are a part of the exhibition 7000 Museums
A view of the installations that are a part of the exhibition 7000 Museums

Arrest at the Wadala Salt Depots — 3rd June 1930; Oil, acrylic with marble dust, charcoal and oil-stick on canvas (2014)
Arrest at the Wadala Salt Depots — 3rd June 1930; Oil, acrylic with marble dust, charcoal and oil-stick on canvas (2014)

How: Dodiya sheds light on this exhibition, “The Museum is 150 years old; their collection includes ceramic and terracotta artefacts and miniature art. While people accept ancient artefacts, they are often baffled by contemporary art. I wish to establish a relationship between art and the common man; art is not only meant for a few privileged ones who attend
show openings.”

A view from a wooden cabinet installation,which includes photo-graphs, sculptures, paintings and found objects
A view from a wooden cabinet installation,which includes photo-graphs, sculptures, paintings and found objects

Museum of Old and New Art Amravati; Watercolour on paper (2014)
Museum of Old and New Art Amravati; Watercolour on paper (2014)

Where: The exhibition’s highlights include a watercolour series featuring mock museums as well as oil paintings, which refer to historical photographs. He elaborates, “There are prints from the 1930s and ’40s Bombay, i.e. during the freedom struggle, showcasing sites like Gowalia Tank.

Atul Dodiya

I have included poems by Arun Kolatkar as well, especially those penned on Kala Ghoda. The watercolour series is witty and has a wish list imagining a 21st century museum in Jhumri Talayya, a state-of-the-art foundation in Burdwan (West Bengal), etc.” Dodiya also emphasises the need for more museums in the city: “Paris boasts of 67 museums. There are far less museums in Mumbai. A lot of people visit museums, including foreigners and people from small towns. With issues like poverty taking centrestage, culture is put on the backburner. There are no easy answers to such questions and as a practising artist, I am using art to deal with it.”

Till: February 10
At: Dr Bhau Daji Lad City Museum, Ambedkar Road, Byculla (E).
Call: 23731234 

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