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Museum of Art and Photography opens with a Virtual Exhibition

Updated on: 09 December,2020 08:50 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dalreen Ramos |

A Bengaluru-based museum opens doors to public, including from Mumbai, with a week-long virtual fest helmed by art-heritage influencers

Museum of Art and Photography opens with a Virtual Exhibition

The opening of the Museum of Art and Photography (MAP) Bangalore started with a virtual walkthrough


Art shouldn't be inaccessible simply because art is very much a part of our lives. It's what Kamini Sawhney, director of the Museum of Art and Photography (MAP), reminds us of, over a phone call from Bengaluru, by stating examples of the intricate rangoli done on doorsteps across the country to the many ways we drape a saree. Art is Life, a week-long festival held to launch MAP digitally, stems from that idea.

MAP was due to launch this year in a five-storey building on Kasturba Road, Bengaluru, but the pandemic put a stop to it. “We were so focused on the physical museum. But when we had brainstorming sessions with our advisory council, patrons and board, the feedback we got was, 'Why are you still focusing on a physical museum? Why not take the museum to people?' So, we decided on a digital museum,” Sawhney shares.




Started with a virtual walkthrough and also featured a performance by Malavika Sarukkai (above). Pics/Youtube
A performance by Malavika Sarukkai (above). Pics/Youtube


The virtual avatar is not half-baked; it's a state-of-the-art avenue where technology meets art. The festival that commenced last weekend and will conclude on Friday, comprises sessions corresponding to six sections the MAP has built its collection on: popular culture, folk and tribal, pre-modern, textile, craft and design, modern and contemporary, and photography.

Each pre-recorded session, a sensory experience that offers a virtual walkthrough, features eminent personalities, and is available to stream online. The one on popular culture, for instance, is presented by Lilette Dubey, and has Madhura Wairkar of the MAP team talk about their collection This is followed by a performance by city-based band Dharavi Rocks, responding to a theme of migration and the pandemic via Bollywood posters.

Upcoming sessions will include Ritu Kumar and Raghu Rai
Upcoming sessions will include Ritu Kumar and Raghu Rai

“We are one of the few museums in India that is programming popular culture. We want to collapse the hierarchy between high and low art. So, everyone who walks into the museum, from all cultures and communities, can relate to what they see,” Sawhney maintains. The session ends with another segment called Museum on Borders, which is a digital collaboration between MAP and a few world-renowned institutions like The British Museum, London, and The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston that enables a dialogue between select artworks from each space.

Mumbai-based band Dharavi Rocks perform a piece in a session on popular art, which is also interpreted in sign language
Mumbai-based band Dharavi Rocks perform a piece in a session on popular art, which is also interpreted in sign language

Sessions that premiere this week include one on textile, craft and design, presented by Ritu Kumar, modern and contemporary art by Rekha Rodwittiya and photography by Raghu Rai. MAP's physical launch is scheduled for next year but Sawhney asserts that it will not be a space for objects alone, but conversations and ideas. And technology will very much be a part of it for the museum has collaborated with Accenture to create an AI persona that can engage with visitors. But until we wait for that, tune into the festival, and savour online exhibitions on their website, too.

Kamini Sawhney
Kamini Sawhney

Till December 11
Log on to www.artislife.events; map-india.org
Free

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