Mumbai Diary: Thursday Dossier

May 17, 2018, 07:00 IST | Team mid-day

The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

Tacky 'Warli art' springs up on orphan Chowpatty pillars
The stewards ferrying chilled mugs of beer at Chowpatty's Café Ideal have no clue how and when four pillars stationed on the footpath outside sprouted Warli art characters, and the message, Tribute to our Martyrs of 26/11. A memorial for constable Tukaram Omble, who lost his life in the terror attack, across the road, is fenced by similar pillars, but these stand bare. The cops stationed 24/7 nearby say, "It seems like someone must have come at night and done this."

Pic/Suresh Karkera

Or perhaps the BMC decided to beautify them, they think aloud. VP Mote, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, D-Ward, denies responsibility. "It's not our work." A rep at PWD puts the ball back in BMC's court. "It falls in their jurisdiction," he says with certainty. Mid-day reporters Gaurav Sarkar and Benita Fernando are far from satisfied. They track down SO Kori, Chief Engineer-Bridges, who reveals that the pillars are in fact, remnants of Bombay's first-ever escalator bridge. The FOB was later demolished in 2013. With plans to build a new bridge, the foundation was left intact, but in the new tender, Kori says, they have authorised to "remove the foundation since it has become weak". In the midst of this ping pong, what's not lost on the city's artist community is the sorry state of public art.

Installation artist Smriti Dixit reacts to the quality of the painting, and says, "A day after the great Warli artist Jivya Soma Mashe passed away, this is an affront to the possibilities of art in a public space. It's creativity under threat." Leandre D'Souza, who co-founded and curates a collective that explores the role of contemporary art within the urban context of the city, says, "How uncanny to see four blank poles suddenly come to life. While the work uses a style that is so under-represented, I still need to see a work that is of merit in our public spaces, and this includes a lot of contemporary work that we see popping up on traffic islands. None of the works reflect the diversity of identities in the city, and the imagination of its many people." On the way back, the reporters find the same cop, who this time has a question for them — "Why are you looking for who did this; do you find the work offensive?" Well, yes, but not in the way you imagine.

Nucleya is making (air) waves
Someone give Nucleya a high-five. For, the country's pre-eminent electronic music producer has landed a contract with BBC Asian Network for his own radio show, titled Nucleya. It will premiere on May 20, and have the DJ playing a range of guest mixes with some of his own tracks thrown in. He will also interview creative leaders from different fields, such as film, design and fine art.


Nucleya follows in the footsteps of such global giants of the music world such as Pete Tong and Diplo, who have also had their own shows on BBC radio. "I didn't have the same opportunities when I was coming up. This show not only gives me the platform to showcase my productions, but also helps me promote a lot of other guys. I want to tell people about all the diversity that exists in India. And it's not just electronic music producers, but also some amazing Indian bands. All in good time, I hope," the artiste tells us, to which we say, "Amen."

Job search, X-Force style
We aren't fans of product placements and forceful brand associations for film promotions. But this one managed to raise a laugh. As part of the promotions for Deadpool 2, actor Rob Delaney, who plays the character of Peter, the one with the amazing luck of having Deadpool as his boss, has created a profile on Linkedin.

Rob Delaney

Peter, the character, has also authored two articles, one on comfort zone (well, there isn't any when you work for a boss like that) and maintaining a work-life balance (if you stay alive). You can also find him on Twitter as Peter W, where he hilariously plans to block Hugh Jackman.

Lost in discourse
With the death of acclaimed artist Jivya Soma Mashe, cultural theorist and curator Ranjit Hoskote has brought up a pertinent issue. "As Jivya Soma Mashe passes into history, the same tired, misleading, pejorative, primordial-ising terminology that has trapped artists like him continues to thrive in discourse..." Hoskote said, pointing to a 2009 essay, in which he wrote, "...descriptions such as 'tribal' and 'folk', although still used as convenient shorthand, are worse than useless.

Jivya Soma Mashe

Generated from the typological obsessions of the colonial census, these labels... have reduced thousands of individuals to the happenstance of birth, registering them primarily as bearers of community identities rather than as citizens of a Republic. And, once circumscribed as Warlis, Bhils, Gonds or Saoras, these individuals have had to mortgage their...imaginative energies to the regime of the emporium." Something for art connoisseurs, gallerists and the media to mull over.

Ranjit Hoskote

The smile of success
Alia Bhatt

Alia Bhatt has reason to be happy at an event held on Wednesday to celebrate the success of her latest film. Pic/Sameer Markande

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