‘Project Cinema City’ Catalogues Mumbai’s Love of Film
If you visit Project Cinema City, an ambitious ode to a 100 years of Indian cinema and its relationship to Mumbai, then start by picking up the accompanying leaflet before you embark on the three-floor show at the National Gallery of Modern Art. Trust us when we say that it will help enormously in decoding some of what is going on, which the curatorial note tells us is a “set of enquiries into the labour, imagination, desire, access, spaces, locations, iconization, materiality, languages, migrant people, viewing conventions, and hidden processes that create the cinemas the city makes”.
What that translates to is hundreds of works by 60 artists, each charged with visualising the “transformation in cinema viewing and cinema production”. The resulting output by the likes of Atul Dodiya, Pushpamala N., Shreyas Karle, Mithu Sen, and Nalini Malani, to name just a few, is at times rather oblique and inscrutable A mash of seemingly bizarre pieces and documentation, it appears not so much to put forth a story or historical narrative as to simply showcase disparate facets like poster art, censorship and advances in film technology. Take, for instance, Anant Joshi’s table of firecracker-shaped objects that spin quickly every few minutes (see image). They’re meant to evoke the “matinee idols who are often referred to as patakas” except that it felt like a forced interpretation imposed on the work before it was a fully formed idea.
But persevere and engage—much of the fun in this show is to be had by tooling around with the interactive pieces, from picking up a phone to eavesdrop on recorded conversations (Paromita Vohra’s “So Near Yet So Far”) to peering into the Bioscope, a whirling device that showcases snippets of information and gossip on the film world. Our favourite piece is the one by Apurva Parikh, a text installation with knobs that control which words are lit up in the excerpt taken from the Guidelines to the Indian Cinematograph Act, 1918. As you muck around with the switches, snippets get highlighted—“white slave traffic”, “scenes depicting venereal disease”, “the drug habit” and “excessively passionate love scenes” were all considered objectionable back then. And so it would appear, little has changed in the last 100 years.Tags: Art, art review, Art Reviews, Cinema City, Film, National Gallery of Modern Art, NGMA
National Gallery of Modern Art
LocationSir Cowasji Jehangir Public Hall
M. G. Road
Relevant DatesUntil Friday, June 29
HoursTuesday to Sunday, 11am to 6pm; Monday, closed
Ticketing & Price InfoIndians: Rs10; foreign nationals: Rs150; students and children: Rs1