Fantasy City

An exhibition in the city reflects on the perception of urban spaces

Published: March 9, 2014 1:03 am

Italian author Italo Calvino wrote in his book Invisible Cities, “Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” To elucidate this idea, Calvino created fantasy cities in his book. His interpretation of these cities has influenced photographs and a cinematographic installation, titled Sample City, which is currently on display at Max Mueller Bhavan, Kala Ghoda.

Sample City describes imaginary cities that have been documented through photographs by Hungarian artist Gusztáv Hámos, who is currently in the city, and has put together an installation with German-born Katja Pratschke. Though these cities exist in reality, it’s their interpretation by the artists that lends them their make-believe value. “I have lived in Berlin, Budapest and New York, which I have been photographing since the ’70s,” says 59-year-old Hámos, who has supplemented the photographic series on each “city” with descriptions, such as about the people who live there and their perceptions.

For instance, Hámos’ interpretation of New York, Irita, is packed with towers that are made of glass and steel. The artist has interspersed this collage of photographs with sketches of Superman in action, trying to save the city. “In popular culture, New York has always been under threat from unknown forces or terrorists. One of the sketches of the superhero is my interpretation of Andy Warhol’s Superman,” says Hámos.

In the large exhibition space at Max Mueller, a 3D photo object close to the entrance, is bound to get one’s attention. A part of the series is shot in a zoo in Budapest and is a representation of yet another of Hámos’ imagined cities called Anselma. Through the installation, the artist attempts to separate reality from perception.

Hámos and Pratschke have also put together four short films that would be screened on March 14. The exhibition will be on till March 16

meenakshi.iyer@expressindia.com

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