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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Platform for Art

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and the India Habitat Centre join hands to make art accessible to the public.

Written by Vandana Kalra |
January 13, 2015 12:01:40 am
Crafts of India are framed at the INA Metro Station corridors. (Source: Express photo by Oinam Anand) Crafts of India are framed at the INA Metro Station corridors. (Source: Express photo by Oinam Anand)

The windows that glimpse into the city will look out into its art as well. Starting January 15, Jor Bagh Metro Station will have light boxes projecting hand-coloured photographs and portraits of three generations of Maharanas, who ruled Mewar. A few stations away, commuters at the Mandi House station will see the festival of colours through Tarun Chhabra’s photographs. Every three months, the display will introduce a new India to commuters. “The Metro is a public premise. There is tremendous potential to develop such activities. We started with Jor Bagh because it is a quieter station, so people can enjoy art at leisure,” says Anuj Dayal, Executive Director, Corporate Communications, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). The company has joined hands with India Habitat Centre for the public art project.

This is not the first time that the rail has added colour to its walls. In March 2014, DMRC in association with the Embassy of France mounted an exhibition of photographs by Pablo Bartholomew at the Rajiv Chowk Metro Station.

There are permanent exhibits too. Among others, the INA Metro Station has 58 panels of handicrafts and handlooms created by craftsmen from across India — from Banarasi brocade and Mithila paintings from Bihar to terracotta tiles from Rajasthan. Students from Delhi College of Art have designed murals in ceramic and fibreglass at Shahdara and Welcome Metro Stations and South Delhi Polytechnic for Women and Rajasthan College of Art were commissioned to design artwork for the Connaught Place to Dwarka corridor, with themes varying from Panchtantra tales and Harappan and Mohenjodaro civilisations, to the making of Metro Rail.

In a city bereft of public art, these installations also fill that void. “The government should take steps to publicise these works, so people know about their existence. Delhi has so many intersections and circles where also, it makes sense to commission art,” says Shubhra Chatur-vedi. The Delhi-based artist worked with Vishwesh Sant on the 234 sq m metal installation at the Janpath Metro Station. Titled jan path, this is a tribute to three important elements: jan or people, and the two monuments, Jantar Mantar and Agrasen ki Baoli. In 2010, she along with Vibhor Taneja, also designed the mirror work You are here… at the Central Secretariat Metro Station. This predicts the future of the Delhi Metro network, with maze-like formations and mirrors that give the impression of being at various places at once.

Not all art, however, is suitable for the subway. “I am looking at the aesthetics of travel, the sublime beauty, breaking the stress of travel. We will look at art that is not critical, but reflects Indian culture and concerns of contemporary society. There will be text with each work, both in Hindi and English,” says Alka Pande, curator for the project.

Meanwhile, the DMRC is set to dot its path with more art in the coming years. Stations through the heritage line will have a consistent artistic theme of historical buildings, with different monuments at each station. Pande also intends to experiment with other arts — from poetry reading sessions to music performances and writing workshops in subways.

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