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Gautam B hatia


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Some years ago at a conceptual art competition when a Baroda painter proposed a free standing man, 20 feet tall urinating against the wall of various national landmarks – India Gate, Victoria Memorial and Churchgate Station – his idea was summarily dismissed as provocative, obscene and offensive. That the temporary work was meant as an ironic monument to a peculiarly Indian urban phenomenon was overlooked, and the project rejected as a form of cultural perversion. This is not art a severe reprimand was issued to the artist. Besides, the jury felt that the public was too illiterate for irony. About the same time, in a rundown neighbourhood in South Boston the side wall of an apartment block was chosen by a local painter as his canvas. The blank face of the five storey building fronted a public plaza, and was the natural setting for a display of public art. To keep the work topical, the artist painted his view of what he imagined to be happening in the apartments behind the wall: a child reading on the staircase, a family at a dinner table, a man arguing with his wife in the bedroom, another lying in the bath tub, a thief carrying away a TV. The imaginary composition did not just give artistic life to the plaza, but combined all the components of the area into a singular entity. It threw artistic insight not just on to architecture, but the plaza, and the lives of the people who lived in the building. By its direct engagement with people, architecture and surroundings, the piece of work spoke a language everyone in the neighbourhood could appreciate. People came, they marveled, laughed, argued about the content. The piece of art created an urban cohesion, a new way of appreciating city space, and instilled a new pride in the neighbourhood. Urban art in India has unfortunately been reduced to the picturesque. Unconnected to the city, it has the same quality as winter flowers on a roundabout, or a Pepsi hoarding on a sidewalk. Its presence or absence contributes little to the quality of urban life. The purpose of most urban art forms is ‘beautification’. It presumes the city to an ugly place in need of visual uplift, and distraction. If art has a place in city life, its connection to ordinary citizens and their movement through public space needs careful evaluation. The competition is open to all. Its primary purpose is to propose, create, and ultimately erect relevant public art in the city. Participants are asked to submit a single rendering of their idea on an A3 sheet, with enough information to make their intention clear. The same sheet should carry an explanation in 200 words or less on what makes the proposal, 1. relevant 2. public, and 3. art. With the help of Indian Architect & Builder and a willing sponsor, the winning entry will be erected in the city of the participant’s choice. A round trip ticket for twelve for the winner’s family and a gold watch for the judge…

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Gautam Bhatia SUBMISSION FORMAT: Design Concept / description: MS Word / PDF Design Proposal / graphic: High resolution PDF ( 24”x 36”) JUDGING CRITERIA : The winner will be selected solely at the discretion of the invited Master. The decision of the Master will be final. PRIZE MONEY RS. 25,000/Send your entries to: iabedt@jasubhai.com Last date of submission of entries: 31 st Dec’ 2010 To participate online, log on to www.aecworldxp.com


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