Sahil Arora’s independent, creative, art space Method in Kala Ghoda straddles the line between old and new Bombay perfectly. Situated on the mezzanine level of a ramshackle old building, it is the perfect venue for the kinds of artists it hosts – quietly revelatory, in-between, and urban. Since its launch in 2019, Method has featured mid-career artists on track to leave a mark on modern art history. As a space, Method becomes a part of the artists’ work. Unencumbered by client briefs or commissioned work, the artist is able to explore their vision without being shackled or held back. The gallery itself almost becomes a character within their work to complete the image.
Their current exhibition is a site-specific installation on free speech by C.A.T.S (Create Against The System) - an anonymous, decentralised, network of artists and activists. In any society with diminishing or non-existent freedom of speech, people have found their own creative ways to fly under the radar and communicate what needs to be said. Free the Speech is an analogue encryption of 20 messages from 30+ artist-activists around India and the world. The installation starts with the use of the symbolic Free Speech Flag designed by artist John Marcotte in 2007. The installation is in response to the UN’s Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights in which the right to freedom of opinion and expression is given to everyone.
The audience is allowed to ‘decrypt’ the messages, broken phrases which are connected by a string. The installation is a metaphor for today’s limitations of freedom of speech and the lengths that one has to go to, to preserve their voice in a surveillance state. According to the collective, it is not aimed at a specific person, political body, or state, but rather aims to address the shifting tide of stifling speech across the world. All participants in the collective are anonymous, and they hope that a shared sentiment will form to restore freedom of speech and opinion without oppression.
The installation is on until October 1st, 2022, and can be viewed at Method Kala Ghoda.
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