Saffronart Editor, Nishad Avari on the Cinema exhibit at the NGMA, Mumbai
Mumbai: Currently on view at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Mumbai is the exhibition ‘Project Cinema City: Research Art & Documentary Practices’, celebrating 100 years of cinema in India. Taking up all the galleries of the building from its lobby to its dome, this show, along with a schedule of films screened at the NGMA auditorium, aims to unpack the twinned relationship between heaving postcolonial cities like Mumbai and their ‘cinemascapes’.
Curated by Madhushree Dutta and Archana Hande, and produced along with several artists, architects, designers and consultants, this exhibition represents “…a set of enquiries into the labour, imagination, desire, access, spaces, locations, iconization, materiality, languages, migrant peoples, viewing conventions, and hidden processes that create the cinemas the city makes, and also the cities its cinema produces.”
Among the highlights of the exhibition are Shreyas Karle’s ‘Museum Shop of Fetish Objects’ – a selection of objects and drawings that bring to life some of the strangest Bollywood practices and euphemisms (my favourite was the milk bottle with the label that read M.K. Milk or Maa Ka Doodh) – and Atul Dodiya’s series of 14 station signboards (from his home in Ghatkopar to the last stop C.S. Terminus), each characterized by a different Bollywood villain and western art reference. Also, don’t miss the bioscope and light-boxes with 1920 censorship guidelines on the ground floor, or the 3D PVC pipe map of the city under the dome (‘Cinema City Lived’) with little peepholes in which the story of cinema unfolds, from sets, studios and production units to some of the city’s most popular single-screen and multiplex theatres.