Coimbatore

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Art Districts

Ukkadam Art District

Ukkadam, Coimbatore

2020

‘Ukkadam’ in Coimbatore is a Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board colony which today is home to people rehabilitated from slum areas across the city. The colony’s pedestrian-friendly architecture and its unique context allowed us to set the base for the country’s sixth open-air, public art district starting on four of its facades. Five artists - four national and one international, worked over twenty days in the month of March 2020 to create foundational pieces for this street art gallery.

Architecturally, Ukkadam is made up of multi-storied apartments, all of which bear wide expansive facades, while its streets are pedestrian-friendly and conducive to on-foot commuting. Additionally, the area’s bustling micro-economy - made up of a variety of markets hosted on different days and dedicated to selling different kinds of wares, is sustained by a huge footfall of residents from all over the city. A combination of these factors allowed us to zero in on the locality as the site for the nation’s sixth art district.

Work in progress

Building on the foundational concept of an ‘art district’ - premised on an open-air public art gallery model, the Ukkadam Art District allowed artists to interpret Kovai’s distinct characteristics individually and represent them visually. Everything from Kovai’s birds to its cinema, and its traditions to the intimate habits of the inhabitants of Ukkadam found visual articulation in the artists’ pieces.

The curation (of both artists as well as artworks) sought to establish a different perception of the neighbourhood, making it a space for imagination and discursive dialogues to bloom.

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Chifumi-‘Yoni Mudra’ Hands are used in Chifumi’s work as a signature element. In a similar spirit, his piece in Kovai carries the ‘Yoni Mudra’ - a symbolic hand gesture mainly associated with the presence and activation of feminine power in all humans, purportedly bringing strength and power, like the Shakti goddess. The colours and patterns of the mural are inspired by Coimbatore and its rich traditions, while the Yoni Mudra is Chifumi’s happy dedication to people from the transgender community who live in the building where it’s located.
Amitabh Kumar
Amitabh Kumar-‘Trees of Where’ Migratory birds are an integral part of the ecosystem of Coimbatore lakes and fly around the world inhabiting temporary shelters. In a site that becomes home to a similar community of dwellers, a collective that has been living in temporary shelters and makeshift spaces, this idea of home becomes permanent. Amitabh Kumar’s ‘Trees of Where’ references both the ecological and sociological composition of Coimbatore’s Ukkadam and represents it as a mural. His ‘migratory bird - trees’ represent the moment a community has found its home, and home is where you can lay your roots.
Jeeva and Munir-‘Coimbatore Surrounded by Woods’ A collaborative effort between artists Jeevananthan and Munir Bukhari, ‘Coimbatore Surrounded by Woods’ reinterprets the slowly diminishing tradition of poster-making, bringing its lineage to a contemporary fold - the piece is a 'poster' scaled up into a mural. Featuring a herd of elephants shown in transit, it emphasises and celebrates the forests that surround the city of Coimbatore, and the common sight of elephants often times seen crossing the city! Located in a TNSB colony - a resettlement site, the piece also urges reflection on the concept of movement in general of social creatures - animals and humans alike.

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