Delhi

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#WIP: The Street Art Show

The #WIPShow, or Work-in-progress was a walk-through experiential street art exhibition built using 100 containers and was hosted at ICD-TKD. The site of the exhibition was the Inland Container Depot, New Delhi - which spread across 55 acres is the largest dry port of India. Handling 2,000 containers and hosting 10,000 employees on a daily basis - it is one of the busiest and most intense areas of Delhi.

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The #WIPShow acted as an open lab where 25 Indian and international artists created site-specific artworks onsite, and under the public's eye over two months. While on one side, artists could be observed painting outside and inside the containers, while on the other, there were performances, street battles, gigs, pop-up food stalls and workshops taking place, making the entire area a hotspot of cultural exchanges and activities.

Unlike static gallery exhibitions, #WIP was constantly being reinvented, staying true to the performative and ephemeral nature of street art. Through #WIP, St+art created an art-hub in an unexpected space to offer diverse sectors of society newer experiences, especially to people who are usually excluded from the reach of art.

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The area chosen was a parking lot of the ICD which was also located near one of the biggest landfills of the city, which towered over the venue, creating a contrasting juxtaposition.

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As you crossed the landfill, you began to see artworks emerge in the distance. These included a massive portrait by German artist Hendrik ECB and a mural by Indian artist Ullas.

The 10,000 workers that ICD hosts on a daily basis include truckers, lifters, crane operators, and waste-collectors among others. As an ode to their name-less and face-less presence and contribution to the city, German artist Hendrik ECB painted a portrait of a worker of ICD on a 120 ft silo. ECB drew the piece titled “There is nowhere to go but everywhere” to give the area a human touch, which he thought was missing from the area.

Feeling that the area lacked a human touch, German artist ECB decided to paint the portrait of a worker of ICD on this 120 ft silo. It is an ode to the unknown and unseen struggle of the rag pickers and truckers of the area. (‘There is nowhere to go but everywhere' by ECB Hendrik, 2016)

Created on the Transportation building, located in the thick of the depot, here, Bangalore-based artist Ullas also speaks about the workers' lives that revolve around the containers. (‘Contain’ by Ullas Hydoor, 2016)

As you walked towards the exhibition, you were welcomed by Australian artist Reko Rennie’s piece which explored his aboroginal heritage. His installation acted as a gateway into a fortress of containers

Australian artist Reko explores his aboriginal identity through contemporary mediums and uses geometric patterns to trace his Kamilaroi roots. ('Original Aboriginal' by Reko Rennie, 2016)

Once inside, you were greeted with a massive Astronaut made by Swiss duo NeverCrew, along with works by Polish crew Dwa Zeta and Indian artists Inkbrushnme and Amitabh Kumar.

An Astronaut is an explorer who can ​view and perceive everything from a distance. Made by the Swiss duo Nevercrew, this piece was in connection to a mural they made in the Lodhi art District. The astronaut generates an emphatic effect as the viewer sees the whole space through the mirror in the helmet, while also looking for himself in the astronaut. (‘See through, See beyond’ by Nevercrew, Gautam Bakshi, 2016)

This piece by Polish duo - Dwa Zeta talks about the interpretation of exoticism by the West. The icons and their connotations show the oversimplification of understanding distant cultures and the laziness of the viewer to deepen the perspective. ('Exotic Pictograms' by Dwa Zeta, by Naman Saraiya, 2016)

'Matruka', in Sanskrit translates to 'The Mother Goddess'. This was Pune-based artist Inkbrushnme's attempt to re-introduce the powerful and feminine side of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, namely Brahmini, Vaishnavi and Shakti (‘Matruka’ by Inkbrushnme, by Naman Saraiya, 2016)

Bali, by Amitabh Kumar, 2016. ICD borders the huge mountain of waste- the Tughlakabad landfill, which had reached full capacity a few years ago and presently stands dead and stagnating. This thought was the inspiration behind the morbid giant titled ‘Bali’ - the headless beast just about to collapse.

The city of New Delhi is always under construction, always transforming. ‘Men at work’ and ‘Work in Progress’ signs are a constant visual across the capital whilst the people who build our cities remain invisible, similar to the street artists who transform our public spaces. The exhibition aimed at capturing the energy of the changing cityscape and reconnecting art to the daily lives of people, while highlighting the nature of street art as a constant work in progress.

All visitors were given the neon jackets worn by construction workers of Delhi. This was an attempt to create a space which was welcoming for people across all backgrounds and where everyone was equal. Wearing the jackets, a truck driver could feel as comfortable visiting the site, as an art gallery owner.

All visitors were given the neon jackets worn by construction workers of Delhi.

Following the philosophy of street art where you find things when you least expect them, the exhibition was designed in a way to create a space of constant discovery in a place you don’t expect to find such things. The containers used for the exhibition were originally used for transporting bananas, but now hosted art experiences inside and outside.

Here, the containers which bring in all the goods of Delhi, could be explored in their natural environments, but from a different perspective - that of canvasses and materials, part of an installation. The idea was to explore the materiality of objects and investigate an alternative usage of these extremely functional containers.

Upon venturing further inside the exhibition, visitors got a chance to engage with pieces by artists from various nationalities - from Indian artists Anpu Varkey and Daku and Mumbai-based artist Tyler to Mexcian artist Senkoe, American artist Gaia, Iranian artist Nafir, and Rome-based artist Agostino.

This portrait by Indian artist Anpu recalls German expressionism and brings forth contents which are deeply intimate in the public realm. It opens up and triggers a personal dialogue with the viewer, based on the childhood of each one of us.

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This piece by Indian artist Daku involves text painted with a particular black ink made from PM2.5 particles which cause air pollution. Made with special help of students at IIT-Delhi who developed the ink for the work. (‘Breathe’ by Daku, by Shijo George, 2016)

Rome-based Agostino painted a giant Cosmic Egg, an ancient and universal symbol which is present in almost all cultures, religions and cults. It also alludes to the nature of containers, which like the egg, are somethings that contain but are also contained. (‘Cosmic Egg’ by Agostino Lacurci, by Shijo George, 2016)

Iranian artist Nafir painted his piece as an attempt to give brave women a voice. This is a portrait of Forugh Farrokhzad, the filmmaker of House is Black, which was also the first documentary ever made by a woman in Iran. (‘The House is Black’ by Nafir, 2016)

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Through this piece, Mexican artist Senkoe talks about the manifestation of the universe among each human being and the need for each one of us to reflect and introspect on the many things we carry within ourselves. (’Omnia Videns’/ ‘Seeing all’ by Senkoe, 2016)

As a part of the street art movement, Mumbai based artist Tyler believes that art, specifically street art is a tool to be used to create a revolution. This was a take on the iconic statement 'The revolution will be televised'.

Working around the theme of how global warming is a direct consequence of globalisation, American artist Gaia wanted to make a reference to this idea in an Indian context. The Alto produced by Maruti Suzuki is India's top selling car and is a symbol of the burgeoning middle class. The unchecked consumption and pollution caused by it is a massive contributor to green house gases which eventually lead to global warming.

Capitalising on the functionality of the containers, two installations were also set up during the exhibition. While French artists Lek & Sowat created an installation as a reference to the functional aspect of the containers dealing with banana shipping, Indian artist Harsh Raman used the containers to install a temple of Street Art & Graffiti.

Artists Lek & Sowat imagined their installation as a fortress built by one of the Indian tribes living in the area who have their own language which is far from the artists' understanding, hence the incomprehensible text. The yellow colour used in the hieroglyphic text (sacred writings) dominated their dramatic composition.

Believing that street art should be preserved and protected, Indian artist Harsh Raman created a temple of Street Art & Graffiti. For him, street art is a practice that comes from deep meditation, discipline and faith, just as the Sadhu depicted practices.

Apart from exterior facades, artworks were also made inside the containers. 'Bananas' by Indian sign painter Shabbu, ‘The House is Black’ by Iranian artist Nafir, and the Harsh Raman’s portraits in his temple of Street Art & Graffiti all featured artworks done inside the containers.

This work titled 'Bananas' by Indian sign painter Shabbu was created inside a container. The artwork connects to the fact that these containers were mostly used for shipping bananas all over the country. (‘Bananas’ by Shabbu, by Naman Saraiya, 2016)

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Harsh Raman's artworks, inside the containers

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Nafir's piece inside a container

In addition to the line-up artworks, there were some improvised pieces as well. One such piece was the anamorphic text created by the Indian artist duo of Do & Khatra. It complemented the two works that could be seen directly behind it - Suiko's (Japan) black and white horizontal containers, and a dancer's graceful hand gesture by Chifumi (France).

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Pictured here with Do & Khatra’s anamorphic text in the foreground, Japanese artist Suiko chose to compose a simple black and white piece on horizontal containers, inspired by old-school graffiti writing on trains.

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French artist Chifumi’s artwork was inspired by a dance form that is common in several cultures of Asia, and originating from North India has traveled through South-east Asia to reach Cambodia- where the artist currently resides. Here, Chifumi proposes a personal vision of his journeys and the various cultures he comes across.

The aim of #WIP was to become an open platform for various cultural activities. So every weekend creatives across mediums were invited to explore the space in new ways. While the artists were busy painting the containers, there were various gigs, tours and workshops happening simultaneously.

Street battles: Beatboxing, Bboying, DJ performances, rap and dance battles were a common site at the WIP show.

#WIP took-over 31,200 sq feet of ICD for two months and over the course of the exhibition 30,000 people visited the site.

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