A Box of Art

Five years ago,a space measuring around 500 square feet — which was originally a printing shed in an old mill compound — was acquired by art consultant and curator Anupa Mehta,who transformed it into an arts space and called it The Loft.

Written by Zaira Arslan | Published:May 28, 2012 3:58 am

Five years ago,a space measuring around 500 square feet — which was originally a printing shed in an old mill compound — was acquired by art consultant and curator Anupa Mehta,who transformed it into an arts space and called it The Loft. Starting with an artist residency in its first year,the space has been used in a number of different ways to showcase and sell art — mostly by newer artists. The artists who lived in residency in the first year came from across the country and even abroad,and were put up in sponsored accommodation.

Earlier this week,The Loft underwent another redesign,in a way taking it back to its first year. The difference this time,however,is that the space will function as a studio,residence and gallery space,as envisioned by its original architect,the Ahmedabad-based Anand Patel.

“The volume of space will be used in its entirety to create a place that will function as a studio,residence and gallery space,” he says,adding,“The ‘domestic space’ will be pristine white,to let shadows dominate the depth of field. Lighting will play a crucial component,so will the eclectic mix of furniture items.” A year-long project called The Square Foot Project — it will feature shows by five artists from around the world.

The first to inaugurate the space is a group show titled “Reconstructing (White)3”,featuring works by nine artists including Hema Upadhyay,Mithu Sen,Abir Karmarkar,Prajakta Potnis,Gautam Bhatia,Zuleikha Chaudhari,Niyeti Chadha,Praneet Soi and Chittrovanu Mazumdar — and curated by Delhi-based Himali Singh Soin.

“I was thinking about how everyone in Mumbai seems to be living with space constraints,but these constraints can become opportunities if you look at them differently,” says Anupa Mehta,manager of The Loft. “Hemali (Singh Soin) and I were discussing this exhibition and what happens if you engage with art in an apartment setting with furniture,and that’s how this show happened,” adds Mehta.

Each of the nine artists was told to work with a 1x1x1 white cube and create from it whatever they pleased. “The show deconstructs this perfect cube-and reconstructs it. This gives artists an important constraint,which is to create a work of art that exists inside or leaks outside a 1 x 1 x 1 box fabricated from a material of their choice,” says Soin.

So while Chittrovanu Mazumdar chose to create an audio-visual work that exists primarily inside the cube,Mithu Sen interpreted the idea in a more physical and literal manner,exhibiting a square-foot block of ice that slowly melted away on the first day of the show. Hema Upadhyay’s work,The crazy dream that got over,is a box containing an assortment of largely paper objects,from little quotes to cut-outs of animals. The show will continue till July 14.

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