Canadian artistes want to capture Bandra residents in action!

Updated: Nov 23, 2017, 20:07 IST | Krutika Behrawala

For four months, two artists from Canada invite Bandra residents to their photo studio to capture their action for an animated mandala installation. Read on to know why

In a French accent, Patrick Dionne and Miki Gingras say "Namaste!" as a couple walks into their photo studio set up at What About Art? (WAA), an artist residency in Bandra. They are maintenance workers from the building, but the artists aren't interested in their names, age, occupation or community. They want the subjects to present an action that reflects their routine, culture, or a ritual.

Artist Patrick Dionne instructs the couple during the photo shoot at  What About Art in Bandra. Pics/Ashish Raje Artist Patrick Dionne instructs the couple during the photo shoot at  What About Art in Bandra. Pics/Ashish Raje

Language poses a barrier, so we step in as Hindi translators. The couple enthusiastically decides to imitate the mangalsutra ceremony from their wedding. "That would be perfect," smiles Dionne, as he switches on halogen and fairy lights that bring the studio alive. Gingras checks the frame in a digital camera perched on a tripod. She shoots a sequence of photographs as the couple walks towards each other and ties the mangalsutra, guided by Dionne's gestures to start and stop. Though a five-minute exercise, the shoot is memorable for the subjects, who leave with a photograph print as a souvenir.Over the next four months, the artists will capture myriad such actions of as many Bandra folks as possible for a project titled, Milan Samvaad. The shots will be used to create an animated mandala that will be showcased at WAA.

Dionne and Miki Gingras greet the couple with a namaste
Dionne and Miki Gingras greet the couple with a namaste

Meet the artists
Working together for 18 years, the Canada-based artists are in the city as part of a cultural exchange programme between the Council of Arts and Letters of Quebec. "We're interested in the diversity, and various identities that make up our society. The idea is to bring people together to create an archive that tells the story of our times," says Dionne, more fluent in English than Gingras. In the past, they have worked on photography projects in South America, and created identity-themed population murals in parts of Montreal. "One was placed in a Montreal library for four years. When it was removed, the residents wrote complaint letters urging it to be re-installed because it represented their neighbourhood."

Actions speak louder...

The process
The duo chose an action-oriented approach over mere documentation "to develop a relationship with locals, and discover the culture through them". Dionne adds, "Such a process is also interdependent. It helps develop mutual trust." That, along with the language barrier, are the main challenges that the artists seek to overcome during their stay here.

Having discovered Bandra since they arrived three weeks ago, the duo finds the suburb dynamic and its people "more relaxed though living in a metropolis". That makes it an apt neighbourhood for the project. The artists also plan to take the studio set-up into public spaces, starting with a farmers' market that's scheduled this weekend. The residency has also organised a studio visit inviting Bandra folk to get framed. "There's no criteria, you just have to
be motivated," Dionne smiles.

On : November 24, 5 pm to 8 pm
At : 7 Baitush Apartments, 29th Road, Bandra west.
Call : 7045393212


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