Passengers at Rajajinagar metro station enticed by the “Toybrids” exhibits by Siddhartha Karawal and students

Can metro stations to be more than just a transit hub? 

The Metro Neighbourhood Initiative (MNI) sees the potential for metro stations to be a creative community resource and an opportunity to celebrating the uniqueness and character of neighbourhoods around the stations. 

In 2019 Art in Transit, in partnership with United Way of Bengaluru (UWBe) and other city organisations such as Native Place, Bengaluru Science Gallery, Wipro, Hasirudala, Eco Edu and The Azim Premji Foundation started a pilot project for the Metro Neighbourhood Initiative. The MNI pilot project is active at Cubbon Park, Indiranagar, Lalbagh, Rajajinagar and Vijayanagar, Metro Stations and the themes being explored, are around Ecology and Sustainability, Community Heritage and History, Art and Science, Creative Learning and Women’s Safety.

Through a myriad of events, ranging from exhibitions, workshops, collaborations and interventions revisiting our city’s forgotten past to socially-driven community engagement activities at metro stations, MNI intends to celebrate the uniqueness of each neighbourhood and, in the process, build a sense of belonging and connection amongst the local residents and their Metro Stations. 

Phase 1: Festival of Ideas 

25th Noverber – 22nd Decemeber 2019 

In 2019, the Festival of Ideas, investigated the everyday, using a micro-historical approach that focused on small units in a society or neighborhood, which might have contributed to the cultural and social history of the place. Conceived and developed alongside various artists from Switzerland, London, Japan and India, these projects explored socially engaging, and innovative artistic practices. By using micro-histories as an operating tool, students and participating artists probed ways people, events and individuals, think about, interact, and classifying the world around them. Combining research with reflexivity, these projects explored themes of immersion and otherness, closeness and distancing, belonging and dislocation, collectivity and individuality, artificial and real, mechanics of a complex world, The Festival of Ideas was curated by Meena Vari and made possible at the Metro sites by Art in Transit andthe Metro Neighbourhood Initiative. United Ways contribution supported part of the implementation of the Festival of Ideas for Phase 1 of the project. 

http://srishti.ac.in/srishtilive2019/festival-of-ideas/

Vijaynagar Metro Station

Our Scenery facilitated by Risa Sato and Sujata Ramesh Pudale

The scenery that we see has not changed much and sometimes goes ignored.However, by adding a foreign object, the regular scene disappears and something new appears. The idea of Our Scenery is to create new sceneries by introducing foreign objects that are created during the project. After digitally documenting locations, the students then created patterns that are stitched to inflatable materials, which is then placed in identified locations to create new sceneries. 
View video here

Cecilia’ed facilitated by Indu Anthony and Madhuri Rao

Cecilia’ed is a project that aims to promote safety for women in public spaces.Cecilia’ed conducts workshops, projects and art interventions all over Bangalore. In partnership with BMRCL, Art in Transit, FICA and Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, the project created two artworks One is a poem about women’sempowerment by Nemichandra who is a feminist writer from Vijayanagar. The other mural is a comic strip made by the students of Srishti featuring a superhero called Cecilia from Bangalore, who fights for crimes against women. The group also facilitated workshops at local schools and a panel discussion with women police about women safety

View video here

Dis-Locations facilitated by Priya Sen and Ina Kaur

Conceived as a lab, “Dis-Locations” proposes experiments with nonfiction film practices around de-stabilizing ideas  of place and form. Through disassociation and disjoints, the team works with the idea of using disruptions as a means to formulate new connections, hence moving away from usual ideas of representation. Through a series of exhibits, the team invites the audience to re-consider place and form and our relationship with its possibilities.

The Falls facilitated by Allan Parker

The Falls is an installation in five parts which includes screen-printed banners, prints on the risers of the staircase, a film, a large format book and a laser and sound installation. As a whole, the work reflects on the creation and development of cities, what is takes to sustain them and the effects they have on the wider environment. Concerns over water supply, pollution and the longevity of the built environment are often overshadowed by the desire for progress and the prospect of a golden future. The presentation of artworks such as this one, created over three weeks by students from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, provide anopportunity to reflect on  these issues while engaging in the formal properties of the work.

View video here

Risa Sato (Japan), Project : Our Scenery, Indu Antony (India),Project : Cecilia'ed, Allan Parker (UK), Project : The Falls, Priya Sen (India), Project : Dislocation

The Art in Transit Crew, has our ears to the ground, at Vijaynagar. This layout is named after the historic empire, and brings great pride to it’s residents, especially those who have migrated from Uttara Karnataka into the cosmopolitan Bengaluru. This initial immersion intoVijaynagar has now fuelled inquiries that are now being taken further by the AIT Crew andmentored by Yash Bhandari at the Vijay Nagar Metro Station.

Understanding Women’s Safety – is an inquiry by Sreeranjini Ramesh and Shagorika Sinha. We have constructed a three part survey focusing on women’s safety – in and around the Vijaynagar Metro Station. Targeting women commuters, questions pertain – to safety during commute, in and around the station, and in the larger neighbourhood. There has been a lot of participation, and the process pictures and information are being compiled to form a report that highlights key issues female commuters deal with when it comes to safety. 

Place-Based Audio Stories is an inquiry by Rohan Hallikerimath. Rohan has gathered lost stories about spaces in Vijaynagar shared by community members. These stories are now transformed into listening spots at the station. The intent is that a second generation ofcommunity member of Hosahalli can listen and share tales of the transformation of the area and the supernatural events that led to its development. Memories range from swimming in the Vrishabhavathi river to the transformation of money rock near Vijaynagar circle.

Water Usage is a conversation facilitated by Rudresh Kumar. This participatory activity on water usage is to spark curiosity and dialogue about the usage of water in this community, its purposes, the types and sources of water and the experience of the water bodies in the area. Along with these questions, Rudresh also hopes to instill a sense of nostalgia about the way the Vrishabhavathi river was and the way we engage with it today

Rajajinagar Metro Station

Toybrid facilitated by Siddharth Karawal and Prakash Babu

The project explores the concept of biomimicry and the speculation of new possible hybrid species. The artist and students worked on larger than life sized art works and installations made from biodegradable and recyclable material and materials that were sourced from the scrap yards. Envisioned as a solution to tackle the growing problems of industrialisation in our current ecosystem, the idea of hybrid species is also seen as a new direction to explore varied genetic combinations with greater capabilities like never seen before. 

View video here

Fabric Ecologies facilitated by Lavanya Mani and Sonia Jose

At the beginning of the 21st century, while on the brink of an ecological catastrophe of global proportions, we also appear to be on the threshold of a periodical rediscovering of the sense of wonder that the world appears to have lost. It is too early to speculate whether the return to the handmade, crafts, and other kinds of sustainable living are a fashion, or is born of the pressing exigencies of the time. Perhaps the handmade object and its signification of pre-industrial practices of manufacture, provide a “direct connection to humanity” that all too often seems to be missing from contemporary daily life, particularly in the technologically-saturated, twenty-first century lives. 

This series of installations relook at the ideas of thrifting-modes of use and reuse, ‘surplus’ and ‘discard’ as entities that can potentially be recontextualized. The students use a range of surface application techniques on textile, including block printing and screen printing with natural dye as well as dyeing with flowers, plant materials, rust printing, and alternative plant-based photographic processes such as anthotypes, in their works. Fabric Ecologies reflect our contemporary concerns about the fragility of our ecology, the pollution of lakes and the slow demise of endangered species and trees.

View video here

Fabric Ecologies facilitated by Lavanya Mani and Sonia Jose

At the beginning of the 21st century, while on the brink of an ecological catastrophe of global proportions, we also appear to be on the threshold of a periodical rediscovering of the sense of wonder that the world appears to have lost. It is too early to speculate whether the return to the handmade, crafts, and other kinds of sustainable living are a fashion, or is born of the pressing exigencies of the time. Perhaps the handmade object and its signification of pre-industrial practices of manufacture, provide a “direct connection to humanity” that all too often seems to be missing from contemporary daily life, particularly in the technologically-saturated, twenty-first century lives. 

This series of installations relook at the ideas of thrifting-modes of use and reuse, ‘surplus’ and ‘discard’ as entities that can potentially be recontextualized. The students use a range of surface application techniques on textile, including block printing and screen printing with natural dye as well as dyeing with flowers, plant materials, rust printing, and alternative plant-based photographic processes such as anthotypes, in their works. Fabric Ecologies reflect our contemporary concerns about the fragility of our ecology, the pollution of lakes and the slow demise of endangered species and trees.

View video here

Miniature Portraits facilitated by Kim Noce and Shraddha Jain

Constructed as a series of short animated documentaries, Miniature Portraits is located somewhere between art installation and filmmaking. The project explores the current cultural, sociopolitical and psychological mindsets of Bengaluru through the portrayal of personal narrative. Using stop motion animation, cut out, drawn animation and pixilation, the project aim to capture the intangible through the physicality of raw materials. and draw upon the significance and consequence of time and how it has a role in changing  aspects of the city such as food and businesses, value of language and signages on the city and its people. 

View video here

The AiT Crew: The Rajajinagar Metro is an unwitting point of convergence, through shared functionality, for students,professionals, families and passers-by of this industrial-turned-residential area. Through a series of explorations in the form of photo-walks, experience mapping, resource mapping, collecting phenomena, stories and patterns, we began forming relationships with the space through understanding its context and its people. With an active wall set up inside the station to openly and constantly document our inquiries over time, we began using various data visualisation techniques and art based documentation to make our findings visible. The following experiences have been mentored by Anna Jacob.

Make a knot, leave a spot facilitated by Ritu Patni & Shweta Didmishe: Engaging commuters in the process of a simple tie-and-dye exercise, to bridge to artist Lavanya Mani’s textile installations coming up in the Rajajinagar Station. A large white cloth hangs near the studio space with instructions requesting commuters tie a knot using various materials and methods. The exercise does not reveal the final outcome. The cloth is then dyed and displayed with name tags at each tie-mark to showcase the outcome of this collaborative activity.

Who do you share Bangalore with, and how? by Akshitha Nadella, Saumya Singh & Anna Jacob: We seek to bridge artist Kim Noce’s sociopolitical and psychological exploration of Bangalore, by creating an interactive data visualization that takes commuters on a journey of mapping their experiences of the city. The visual elements encourage them to compare their experiences with those of others, and finally to visualize the diverse experiences of Bangalore as a whole. We used various coloured threads to identify gender and age, against a frame of experiences along which participants would have to indicate if an experience is one they have already had or are yet to have, by looping their string appropriately

 

I move, you move, we move by Shounak Kelkar: To better understand Kim Noce’s upcoming work at the station, and what goes behind a medium such as stop-motion animation, we provided the public with an opportunity to collaboratively create a stop-motion film of their own. A cardboard environment set is placed under a camera.Commuters can choose from a bunch of paper characters and objects, and place them in the scene. The camera is controlled to shoot a stop-motion sequence. Each participant adds a small new event. The resulting clip becomes a story made by many people and the sum of their choices.

Alternate Realities by Prateeksha Nagaraj, Rhebsa Elsa Anil & Anna Jacob: Siddhartha Karawal’s practice involves a delightful play between the mundane and the fantastical. To foreshadow his work at the station, we used the windows as a site for posing simple propositions, giving people a chance to peek into and co-create alternaterealities that are ever so slightly but fantastically different from our mundane reality

Cubbon Park Metro Station

What time is this place? Facilitated by Sureka and Kamya Ramachandran

What Time Is This Place? is an exhibition at the Cubbon Park Metro Station based on the Wheeler Road flyover. The exhibition, a found object installations, looks at the process of public art and evokes the fleeting, the forgotten and the ordinary.The Wheeler Road Flyover in Cox Town, an infrastructure project like any other, cuts through the neighbourhood like a knife slicing through butter, uprooting glorious old rain trees on either side and replacing them instead with stern stanchions of steel drowned in stubborn concrete. A decade later, the place still yearns to heal its scars. Everyday life takes over and extends its reaches, trying in all earnestness, to come back together, to carry on with a new way of life. For three weeks the team of Whose Time Is This Place? inhabited the underbelly of the flyover where they shared the space with peaceful cows, busy lizards, territorial dogs, fleeting birds, curious bystanders and enthusiastic passers-by. Here, they gathered stories of every-day lives of the potters of Pottery Town and the bamboo sellers of Bamboo Bazaar. Local micro-histories and personal memories that nestle in the neighbourhood were sought, documented and evoked through murals. A garbage-filled area became re-energized through creative practice and art with found objects took on a new meaning with a ‘garden sculpture’ sheltered within an abandoned auto-rickshaw. The idea of a ‘temporary shelter’ is explored through the terracotta Gubbi Gudu (Sparrow Nest) from the Pottery town.

View Video here

Artificial Intelligence and Future Micro-Histories facilitated by Daniel Saul and Mike Joseph

How do the operations of artificial intelligence intersect with our everyday lives? And

perhaps more importantly, what may be the aspirations for artificial intelligence in the future? These artificial intelligences can be hidden within familiar technology, and may be affecting our day-to-day decision-making in ways we barely think about. This project is a future-technology inspired idea in the form of a composition of a personalised collection of stories. Artificial intelligence is no longer solely consigned to the future. It exists in our present and is persistently influencing our everyday lives. Seen by some as the greatest opportunity and by others as a disaster, what does this mean for India and Bengaluru? The four art projects installed in Cubbon Park Metro envision Bengaluru in five years time. The project examines the parallels, or dissonances that exist between the concepts embodied in this big-scale industry and a life lived by an individual human being. They ask the question, ‘How will Artificial Intelligence affect people living in the city in 2024?’

The Unremembered facilitated by Annu Palakunnathu Matthew

Misplaced and lost in our country’s history are the lives of the unremembered 25 lakh Indian soldiers who fought in the Second World War. Many of these were from the airforce and a part of HAL. Archiving these lives by collecting and narrating stories as told by their families, most of them from Bangalore, The Unremembered is an exhibition of archival footage, photographs, films and installations. Using UV light and invisible ink, the names of the 89,000 Indian soldiers are turned into an interactive installation. To take the audience through their journey of entering the army, the team recreated the height outline which was required for soldiers to qualify to join the army. The exhibition will also include lithophanes created using old photographs with ambient recordings of their families and projecting of archival footage of the soldiers’ lives.

View video here

The Curatorial Impulse facilitated by Shai Heredia and Kurush Canteenwala
Experimenta India: The Curatorial Impulse, is a curatorial, archiving and exhibition project focused on media art. Contextualized within the disciplines of experimental film and video art, this project investigates the complexity of the curatorial impulse by exploring practices of documentation and exhibition and bringing value to artistic processes of creating memory. An archive of old and new media was set up by the team of students and they also worked on the production of the Experimenta India film programme at the International Film Festival of Kerala, scheduled for December 6-13 and the Festival of Ideas at the Cubbon Park Metro Station, Bangalore on December 20-22. The exhibition features a program of films curated by each participant.

The AIT Crew: Right at the heart of Bangalore and next to the lungs of the city, the Cubbon Park Metro Station connects many government buildings, heritage centers, historical monuments and sites for leisure. It has been the focus station of Art in Transit’s work for the past 3 years. This Interim AIT group has been mentored by Poorva Goel

Treasure Hunt and Station Mascots designed by Mahek Imran and Charu Latha with Aastha Chauhan and Aashi Jain.

How do we connect stations across the city and diverse projects of Srishti Interim? How do we create a cohesive experience for commuters and visitors to the exhibition? How do we expand curiosity, understanding and experience of art in the public sphere? How can we invite commuters who might not have had such an art experience, to enjoy and participate in the experience the exhibition and events? Being spread across 4 non-consecutive stations has pushed us to think about the flow of experience from start to finish as any station could be a starting point and the diversity of projects makes it hard for one to understand the bigger picture of the Festival of Ideas. To make this experience more cohesive and contextual, we developed a treasure hunt or challenge spread across all 4 stations where one would be required to go from station to station picking up clues or collecting stickers and/or a collectible. Information about the treasure hunt would be put out on social media and would take place in a specific time frame take would encourage anyone interested to venture across the 4 stations. In addition, to allow for easy navigation and an overarching understanding of the exhibition, a mascot team (AIT crew) will be present at every station. We will be distinguishable by our clothes as well as “May I assist you” tags on each of us. Although not explaining each exhibition, the mascot team can ensure that the audience experiences all exhibit’s works. The mascot team will be the mediator between the artist’s own representative and the viewing public.

Art in Transit, Srishti, appreciates the support from United Way of Bengaluru to continue and expand the work and philosophy of public creative interaction and participation through the Metro Neighbourhood Initiative.