Landmark Project – Azadpur Mandi, Axel Void

For St+art Delhi 2015, Miami-born artist Axel Void finished a mammoth piece in the Azadpur Market of Delhi. Right next to the entrance of Asia's largest wholesale market for fruits and vegetables - the Azadpur ‘Mandi’ is the largest cold storage facility that houses hundreds of thousands of goods every day. Axel painted a mural titled ‘Zindagi’ (Life) on one of the 60 x100 foot walls of the storage unit.

Axel Void Aazadpur Mandi Startdelhi 2015 7

Artist Axel Void planning the execution of the mural.

The Azadpur ‘subzi mandi’ is indispensable to Delhi’s food chain and is functional 24 hours a day. In huge numbers, trucks from all parts of the country bring fresh produce to the market every day. This produce is then sold to local vendors through a channel of middlemen. The Delhi Cold Storage is located adjacent to the wholesale market. A massive refrigeration unit, the storage has existed since 1946.

Work for the mural underway

The handling and sorting of produce includes labour-intensive work and operations in the ‘mandi’ and storage are reliant on a workforce of 1000+ labourers known as ‘palledars’. Responsible for loading and unloading produce from nearly 3000 trucks every day, these ‘palledars’ work in shifts and stay in godowns and offices within the premises of the mandi.

The ‘mandi’ is not only the starting point of Delhi’s food chain but is also a source of livelihood to thousands of workers who keep it up and running 24x7. Part of his international series ‘Mediocre’, Axel wanted the piece to talk about life in the market and dedicated it to both the ‘mandi’ and its workers.

The artwork depicts a burning white candle surrounded by fruits and a knife, kept atop a table. The word ‘Zindagi’ (life) is spelled in Devnagri across the façade of the unit.

Paying tribute to these ‘palledars’, Axel painted his interpretation of still life - one of the most recurrent themes in the history of classical painting. Through the mural Axel wanted to recognise the tireless labour of the workers of the market, which provides life to the city by storing most of its food. It also spoke about the mundane nature of daily life, but the importance of each individual in supporting and sustaining life for others.

Traditionally art has commemorated kings and important people. I am using the same technique to pay a tribute to the daily lives of ordinary people.

- Axel Void, Artist


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