Taking The Streets Indoors: A Sneak Peek Into St.Art Mumbai's MAGMA Exhibitions

Taking The Streets Indoors: A Sneak Peek Into St.Art Mumbai's MAGMA Exhibitions

Street art is a fairly new concept in India. It takes art out of the almost-too-bitchy, highbrow and niche realm and makes it approachable for the common man. While it is considered vandalistic by a few, street art, more often than not, reflects a strong belief.

With this in mind, the St+ART India Foundation curated some of the best local and international talent to initiate the St+ART festival and exhibition earlier this year, which was outrageously successful in Delhi, and now Mumbai too is being injected with a heavy dose of life via murals and installations.

Two, month-long exhibitions - MAGMA Volume I and Volume II - are being held simultaneously in Bandra and Kala Ghoda. We were fortunate enough to receive invitations to the opening nights of both. 

Jude Bakery in Bandra, a previously abandoned building, was transformed into a fascinating venue, with a palpable Brooklyn-esque vibe in an Indian context. Conversations developed over Miller beers and pani puris. Art was celebrated, the endeavour was applauded and the artists were commemorated.

Hanif Kureshi, the creative director of the festival gave us the lowdown of the festival in Mumbai so far

“Bombay’s been tougher than Delhi, mostly because this is an entirely new concept for people here. In Delhi, we have already had exhibitions like Extension Khirkee, so people are more familiar with street art. But people here are definitely adapting to it as we go on - the process is starting to seem smoother.”

We have had to rush to the hospital twice, we’ve had a crane break down, one of the artists was run over by a cycle. It’s only been about a week so far, but it has been intense because there are some things that are just out of our control.”

We also caught up with the festival director, Arjun Bahl for a little chat.

The plan is to cover as many walls as we can in Bandra, South Bombay, Dharavi and Versova. Acquiring permissions for walls has also been challenging and time-consuming, because most places are dictated by multiple minds. But people are becoming more receptive towards our work, because they realise that there is no branding or marketing agenda behind what we’re doing.

While the festival is fun and opens new doors for young India, we have a few serious projects in the pipeline. We will actively get involved in policy-making, all the while using the medium of street art.

We were also able to gain a few insights from Akshat Nauriyal, the content director, about the work that has happened so far, and the disparity between the two venues that the exhibitions are being held at. 

"St. Jude bakery is definitely more of a work-in-progress, open studio kind of space, which is ideal for a festival like ours, while Upadrastha House in the heart of Mumbai's thriving art district, Kala Ghoda, is a refined and traditional gallery space. It was an unconventional choice but it was very important for us to cover both ends of the spectrum - even though St. Jude is a great venue for our exhibition, we also wanted to take our art to a place that speaks of a more old-world, cultured art vibe, which is exactly what Kala Ghoda provided us, as opposed to Bandra's suburban 'hipster' feel, for the lack of a better word."

Jude Bakery is central and is fairly recognised in Bandra. It is an unclaimed space lost in time to a certain extent. It has history attached to it, and moreover, this piece is reminiscent of Saint Jude, the patron saint of hope.

Comparing Delhi and Mumbai, Akshat says, “In Delhi, primarily in Shahpur Jat, an urban village, we sort of had an upper hand because most of the population there was uneducated and subsequently had little to no knowledge of what street art is, so they viewed our work without any preconceived notions. People in Bandra, however, are educated and are of a higher socio-economic standing. They come with set tastes, judgements and opinion - opinions that they don’t hesitate to voice. Although it has been a challenge, we have embraced this aspect too and tried to work around it. Working with the community is imperative and permissions are integral - we don’t want to be outsiders who come in, paint a mural and leave.”



MAGMA VOLUME I: Pictures by Rhea Baweja

MAGMA VOLUME II: Pictures by Thomas Meyer (Provided by St+art India)

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