Friday, January 1, 2010

‘A Place in New York’ by Navjot Altaf

Navjot Altaf’s ‘A Place in New York’ at Mumbai based Guild Art Gallery is a research and interactive project.

The artist was in the city on an artists’ residency for eight weeks. The interactive project has been the outcome, executed just after she had presented ‘Bombay Shots’ at the gallery in 2008. The new project can be considered an extension of that. In spite of many political undercurrents, she finds both the cities have citizens from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds making them vital and dynamic.

On the eve of her show, Navjot Altaf mentions that she is interested in the interactive as well as the dialogical process of art-making. ‘Bombay Shots’ and her earlier suite of work, entitled ‘Mumbai Meri Jaan’, helped her understand reasons for migrating and the people’s relationship / associations with the city and sites that they relate to, visit, like to be photographed with and remember – in the process both the artist and the participant create a new dialogue. They thus historicize such places. The artist adds:

"The very process of engaging with the participants of this project in New York and the places that have special meaning and experience for them builds up another layer of memory – overlapping the earlier ones. Renewing with this revisit may be a different perspective of the city and life around it and building up complex relationships with the places. What it does is, build bridges towards understanding and documenting, to a certain degree the complex web of relationships of an evolving and ever-changing city, and its affect it may have on its inhabitants."

It focuses on the interdependency of the people and surrounding places, of how a city tends to acquire a certain culture as well as character through its inhabitants and how they co-inform themselves and gets swayed by the culture. It’s an ever evolving dynamic relationship – an outcome of collective forces, which gets built up with character and aspirations of an individual.

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