Helvetic Power

Remember when those kids took us for a walk in their rice fields? I was just trying to create space on my hard drive and ran across these.

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Actually I have the date from the time stamp on the photo: March 27, 2009.

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I took lots of photos on that walk.

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I just noticed this one….

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But wait. What is the pattern on that guy’s shirt? Let’s zoom in. Wow.

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Installation on Upvan Lake

A little preview …. still editing / waiting for documentation of my second project for the Upvan Art Festival, supported by FCA’s Emergency Grant. A little sculpture installed on a tiny island in the lake, via paddleboat.

Here are some video clips from the installation — one of the most surreal installations I’ve experienced.

Reconciliation of the Opposites

During my time in Thane, I took a brief trip to Borivali, Mumbai to give a slide lecture at Cona, a space run primarily by Shreyas Karle and Hemali Bhuta. We had a nice conversation about public art in an Indian vs. western context, and I answered questions from students about finding one’s way as an artist and the creative process.

Shreyas printed these beautiful invitation cards for my lecture, which he titled “reconciliation of the opposites”.

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Update

It’s good to be here! The original idea, an installation inspired by tree barriers, will not work because there is not a good site. However, I have started on two other projects:

One: a collaboration with local students to create a digital archive of weeds.

Two: a sculpture to be installed on a tiny island in the lake.

More details to come as the projects progress. In the meantime: I asked for a jigsaw, a screwgun, and some screws so I could start building the sculpture. After some investigation, it seems it is way more cost effective to hire a carpenter to build the thing for me, and also a translator so the carpenter can understand my instructions!

Labor is cheap here. Goods, equipment, and materials are relatively expensive. This is why concrete is mixed by hand. This is why recycling is more prevalent here than in the US, because there is more value in the materials than in the human-hours spent sorting and processing it.

Upvan Art Festival – Brainstorming

I have been looking at pictures of Thane online, and I am interested in these square, concrete barriers around tree beds:

Inline image 1

Inline image 2

Visually, I am interested in the contrast between the organic lines of the trees and the hard-edged, geometric structure of the barriers. Conceptually, I am interested in what the barriers signify: “This is a space for a tree, separate from human space. Also, this nature was put here for your enjoyment and recreation. This is a destination. This place has been cared for. This place is beautiful and civilized.”

In general, I am interested in the relationship between people and their environment. I am also interested in how we mentally categorize different kinds of spaces and places. Some are valued and maintained, seen as “destinations”. Other kinds of spaces are purely functional, not aesthetic. Others still can be called “junkspace”: a place that is overlooked, unused, untended, and thus host to numerous extraordinary possibilities.

I am interested in finding some trees that are a little bit outside of the main recreational area of Thane and Upvan lake, in spaces that have not been designated for this purpose. I would like to construct a barrier for each tree I choose, inspired by the ones I see in the photos above. I would like to use concrete if possible, so if I could hire a small crew to help me make some small, low structures, that would be great. The structures can be temporary, if necessary.

By doing so, these “junkspaces” would become destinations by virtue of having public art placed there, and the trees would get more attention too. I would like to take this a step further by creating Foursquare.com venues online for each tree, which visitors could vitually “check into” and leave photos and comments. There is also a kind of pun here: The barriers are square-shaped, and maybe I could have four of them!

Once I am in Thane, I might get some more ideas to add to this project: possibly some kind of adornment for the low concrete structures, or possibly some kind of workshop organized about how to care for city trees.

I know there was recently a tree census in Thane. Maybe this project would help to raise awareness that all of the trees are beneficial to the people. I also see there are some articles online about illegal tree cutting. So this project would have an environmental message, and also deal with how we use and think about public space in relationship to nature.

Images from Upvan Lake’s foursquare page

https://foursquare.com/v/upvan-lake-thane-maharastra/4b5d250ff964a5206d5429e3

I like these square tree barriers/corrals/enclosures.

Uh oh

And the comments!

  • There’s a huge crocodile in the lake!
    February 25, 2012
  • A beautiful scenic and panoramic views of the the lake! Don’t spoil with ur public display of ur emotions! Ppl are here to enjoy the other beauty,which is divine!
    July 24, 2011
  • It’s so romantic here.
    May 25
  • Best time to visit at morning so can enjoy strolling on the lake side and enjoy the fresh air blowing.
    April 29
  • Good place to be with yr loved once
    July 19, 2011
  • The silence of this place is so loud that you won’t be able to hear your own thoughts. This silence takes over your thoughts – Good or Bad.
    June 8, 2012
  • Calm u quite plc
    April 21, 2012
  • Jst enjoy with ur girlfriend cos its lovers point
    April 5, 2012
  • Awesum place to hangout wid frnds n hav a sip of beer 😉
    March 18, 2011