A New Exhibition Remembers The City’s Textile HistoryView Slideshow
The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee’s recently released heritage list revealed the saddening extent of the loss of our city’s heritage. In the five years it took the committee to make the list public, a number of old buildings had been quietly replaced with high-rises. While the erasure of heritage is taking place unnoticed throughout the city, it’s perhaps most rapid in Lower Parel. The neighbourhood, where once chimneys in textile mills were the tallest structures, is now an equaliser graph of glass-fronted high-rises. As the mills diminish, so does the memory of the textile industry, which along with the trade in opium, made Mumbai into India’s financial capital.
Social Fabric, a new exhibition at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum is an attempt to revive interest in the history of the city’s textile industry. The Bhau Daji Lad sits smack in the middle of Girangaon, a 600-acre swathe that contains most of the city’s mills. As soon as you enter the museum, you encounter White Gold, a massive painted curtain by UK-based artist Celine Condorelli. The two halves of the curtain are mirror images of what appears to be a farmer in a field of cotton. Sudhir Patwardhan’s panoramic canvas Lower Parel captures a neighbourhood in transition; the skyline of the lower middle-class area, which was once dominated by Phoenix Mills, now has an ominous high-rise. In the foreground is a man plugging his ears with his fingers. Is he blocking the deafening sound of traffic heading to Phoenix Mills, which is now a mall meant for the upper classes? Archana Hande’s two gorgeous block-printed scrolls, both titled Girangaon, depict the transformation of a pastoral idyll into a polluted, industrial city.
One room is taken up entirely by German artist Alice Creischer’s installation, Osmotic Compensation of the Pressure of Wealth During the Contemplation of Poverty. This cryptic work—the hemispherical panels, seemingly mobile fans and cloth panels of which suggest a mechanical apparatus, has references to the inequalities created by the transfer of wealth from colonies across the world to colonising countries. One of the most delightful exhibits is a series of cloth samples from the Collections of the Textile Manufacturers of India, an 18-volume book compiled by Forbes Watson for display at the Paris International Exhibition of 1855. The swatches of cloth indicate the range and richness of India’s textile traditions. They belong to the larger, national history of how the textile industry moulded the country’s socio-economic reality. To forget that history would be tragic.Tags: Alice Creischer, Archana Hande, Art, Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Celine Condorelli, Social Fabric, Sudhir Patwardhan
Bhau Daji Lad Museum
LocationNext to Byculla Zoo
91A Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Road
Phone022 6556 0394
Relevant DatesUntil Sunday, November 11
HoursFrom Thursday to Tuesday, from 10am to 5.30pm; Wednesday closed
Ticketing & Price InfoAdults: Rs10; Children under 15: Rs5; Foreigners: Rs100