BlowUp Bombay

June 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

So… On 22nd May, Blindboys’ epic street exhibition, ‘BlowUp Bombay’, took place.

And here’s a round up of some of the things we’ve found about it online. Follow the links to read the full texts and see more images.

“Life is on display on the street — people walk, sit, stand, sleep, drive, drink, eat, piss, talk, mingle, fight, and love [there]. The street is where groups collide and where people live and die and where all of society mixes with trash, smog, sewage, and the pulsating sounds of traffic. We put together a bunch of our pictures there to bring them to you – where you’re standing, on the street.”  Blindboys

Image Ⓒ Kunal Bhatia

“As any artist will attest, street art is best made when unpredictable, subversive and not entirely legal. Which is exactly the formula followed by Blindboys.org, an online photo-commune founded by photographers Akshay Mahajan and Kapil Das in 2009. Their Blowup events, where an ad-hoc public photo gallery is created using building walls and shop fronts as hanging space, have slowly accrued a devoted following. Submissions number in the hundreds.”  MUMBAI BOSS

Image Ⓒ MASI

“Amateur and professional photographers set up a unique exhibition — on the walls of shops, alleys, fencing in Bandra today. Part of an initiative called Blowup Bombay, it has been started by blindboys.org, and describes itself as a “community-driven space which uses simple and effective ways to reach out to photographers and audiences alike”.” CNNGo

Image Ⓒ Sheena

“On May 22, [in] an abandoned house behind Bandra’s Mehboob Studio […] strewn with papier mâché Greco-Roman pillars and other discarded props that once featured in celluloid dreams, two photographers will set foot on Saturday, armed with cellotape and photographs printed on cheap paper. Together, they will embellish the tattered walls with not just their own works but also those of both established and amateur photographers received over the past few months. Works which, just like the roofless house, are constantly threatened by the oblivion of abandonment.

Welcome to Blow Up In Bombay, an event that aims to give photographers an unlimited, unpredictable and very accessible exhibition space—the street.”  The Times of India

Image Ⓒ Zishaan Hayath

“The setting for the May 22 exhibition [BlowUp Bombay] is not the glossy innards of a city gallery but rather a ramshackle house behind Mehboob Studio in Bandra with the paint peeling off the walls and the floor strewn with cinema props. [Akshay Mahajan and Kapil Das (aka Lenskap)] met in Angkor at a Cambodian photo festival in 2008. Common angst over a lack of space for promoting emerging works sealed their friendship and gave birth to blindboys.org—an online community platform to showcase emerging works and bring photographers and audiences together. Over the last six months, Mahajan, 24, and Das, 30, have organised three BlowUps: in Bangalore’s Church Street, Delhi’s Connaught Place, and Paris. Seeing the works displayed, they were invited by Wideyed, a UK-based organisation, some time back, to present an exhibition in Newcastle.” Indian Express

Image Ⓒ Vivek Sheth

“Date: May 22, 2010, Place: Blowup Bombay Street exhibition, Bandra… was one such day when the first time experience (despite the photos being showcased on straw mats, display area surrounded with trash) aroused a range of emotions that any gallery exhibition (even though they would have wall mounted frames, marble floor) in future would fail to…

It was just me…RAW to the core…and hence I loved every bit of it.” Baya Agarwal

“What’s the best use of public space? We think it is when the space is really used by the ‘public’ – lots of random people getting together and enjoying themselves. Sadly for Bombay city, public spaces that can truly be enjoyed by all sections of the ‘public’ are few and far between – and they often vanish within the blink of an eye only to be covered in scaffolding and renovated into a fancy mall.

On Saturday, May 22 however, we came across  Blowup, a photo exhibition hosted by a group called the Blindboys.org – an online photo-commune founded by photographers Akshay Mahajan and Kapil Das in 2009.

The exhibition ended in an area that had lots of character – it was a huge open ground — a junkyard of sorts, with discarded suitcases, pillars (yes, pillars), gigantic scrap metal sheets and other discarded items we can only imagine were either part of a wedding or a film set. There were even some boys playing football in the area. I recognized one of them, it was Ningraj, and he told me that he had even helped put some of the pictures up.” Jalebi Ink

Image Ⓒ Puneet Rakheja

“At 3pm on the day of BlowUp Bombay, volunteers and photographers trickle into the winding alleys of the suburb Bandra, just north of the city. Photographs are pinned up in an abandoned building and surrounding walls. It’s not long before the unusual activity lures onlookers. Local children point at photographs of camels roaming through the Mongolian desert, while nearby, one photographer’s nostalgic take on the trusty Indian bicycle is attracting a crowd. More than 1,000 prints from various photographers tell an array of stories – from the bittersweet experience of moving house to farmer suicides in rural India. In the midst of the activity, 26-year-old Baya Agarwal carefully pins up her photo essay ‘Small Town Diary’ on bamboo screens. Agarwal has captured the life of a rural town in Orissa, snapping scenes from the local fish market to an old woman applying makeup. “I lived in a small town and I wanted to show what life is like, how people here live like they are in the 17th Century,” Agarwal explains. ‘Small Town Diary’ is a labour of love, taking Argarwal three months to complete. Due to the high costs of gallery shows, however, Argarwal has not exhibited her work. She says BlowUp Bombay provided the perfect opportunity.

As the sun goes down across Bombay and the exhibition comes to a close, hundreds of spectators begin to scramble for prints, ripping their favourite works off the walls. For the artists whose prints are taken it’s an affirmation that their work has struck a chord. For Mahajan and Das, the ultimate endorsement of Blindboy’s photographic street experiment will happen when people start staging their own BlowUp events.

“People ask, ‘When are you coming to Pune? When are you coming to Kolkata?’” Das comments. “It would be nice if we could let it go viral and people just took the initiative and organised something like this themselves.”

“It’s not so difficult to do.”” Riksutställningar

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