Today was the last day for 2013 edition of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF). Even as I get ready to publish this post, the handicrafts stalls must be getting dismantled as the area has to be clear for regular traffic by tomorrow morning. The installation and street art too would be dismantled (I wonder where they go). Most Mumbai-based bloggers have already published posts and photographs on the KGAF 2013. And now, it’s my turn to share my thoughts and perspective on this one-of-a-kind art and cultural festival in Mumbai.
I have been visiting KGAF since its inception and have seen it grow to the extremely popular and iconic event that it has become today. While I enjoy all the events on offer at the KGAF, it is the installation and street art that I look forward to every year. To be honest, I didn’t start of as a fan of installation art, but the creativity that is showcased is something that I find it hard to ignore. And this year, the installation art at the 2013 version of the KGAF was a sensory delight.
Bangles, metal wires, insulated wires, plastic bottles, paper, papier-mache, clay, cloth, CDs, assorted hardware from computers, plastic mugs, corrugated cardboard sheets, metal pipes, spectacle frames, coins, photo frames, metal chains, cardboard cartons, plywood, PoP, jute sacks, cane, bamboo, marble, glass bottles, plastic tuns, cars, rickshaws, a bicycle, petrol tanks, dolls, living plants, driftwood … just about every material imaginable was used for the installation art at KGAF 2013. I had a hard time stopping myself from reaching out and touching or climbing onto many of the artworks clearly signposted with “Do not Touch” or Do not Climb”.
And though most of the installation art fit into themes similar to previous years — Mumbai city, social issues (corruption, violence against women, child sexual abuse), broader environmental issues, cinema — there were also those that did not fit into any of the themes and managed to hold their own. A selection of some of the installations that appealed to me are given below.
Though there was no clear-cut theme mentioned, I almost renamed the KGAF as the Kala Ghoda Skull Festival. So many of the installations had skulls as part of the larger installation or the installation was a skull itself ! See the photograph below, which is a collage of some of the skulls I saw:
It was not just the installation art that caught my eye; there were other eminently “camera ready” moments too.
The 9-day KGAF packs in activities for children and adults alike and accommodates events in music, dance, visual arts, literature, theatre, food, films, street, heritage walks and a host of workshops. And since these events are very popular, not to mention absolutely free, it attracts people from all over.
In my opinion, compared to last year, this year’s KGAF was better in all aspects — the events on offer, the installation and street art, the food at the venue, the stalls and the behaviour of the visitors. Of course, this year too there were more cameras than people at the KGAF, and the visitors were more interested in posing with an artwork than actually reading about it or trying to interact with the artists present there. But I did not witness any shoving or pushing and in fact, saw people politely waiting for their turn to photograph or sometimes even moving out of the frame to give someone else a chance at getting a good shot ! I also saw people not littering and actually taking the effort to find the right type of dustbin for disposing waste.
I have always maintained that the KGAF is a metaphor for the city that hosts this festival. So is this a sign of a city that is maturing ? Only time will tell.
I spent 3 half days at the KGAF this year — on the Saturday if commenced, and on a Tuesday and Friday. This gave me enough chance to walk around and soak in the atmosphere, see each installation art, visit the stalls, catch up with some of my fellow bloggers, and bully Arunima of Picture Story Book into giving me some photography lessons And people watch as well. I had a wonderful time and can’t wait for the 2014 edition of the KGAF to come by.
What did you think of KGAF 2013? Do let me know.
Read about the other editions of the KGAF