For Mumbai-based architects and urban researchers, Rupali Gupte and Prasad Shetty, cities are complex and have logics that are coherent. This is the reason why they re-look at a burgeoning metropolis through the lens of architecture, minutely observing the mundane and neglected. Something, the two of them showcased at the 56 Venice Biennale where they presented their project, “Transactional Objects” where they used utilitarian objects to create works of art. Now, they curating an ongoing exhibition, “When is Space” that examines the relationship between architecture and space.
Why did you choose this title which aims to explore ‘when’, instead of the obvious ‘what is space’?
Rupali:When is space is a poetic title that asks what does it take for space to happen? What are the agencies involved in its production? Who is producing it? For whom? What are the material logics through which space is produced? What are the mathematical logic? What are its affective dimensions? Since independence in India, the pursuit of making space appears to be trapped in the binaries of modernistic pursuits and revivalist tendencies. We wanted to bring the discussion on architecture back to a discussion on space – and liberate it from the clutches of simplistic binaries and superficial production narratives. The exhibit would interrogate the conventional processes that have produced space.
What do you mean by conventional processes?
Rupali: There are many conventional processes through which architectural space is produced – the processes of defining space, drawing space, imagining space and making it – for example, the colonial logics of cartography have been dominant in thinking about space, the utilitarian notions of standards are prevalent in all architectural production today, etc. Architecture has largely been seen as a container of events – but could it not be an event in itself? Could it not be a catalyst for events? This exhibition asks the first questions on these.
How did your approach the exhibition through the curatorial lens?
Prasad: An exhibition on architecture in Jawahar Kala Kendra necessitates a conversation with the powerful spatiality of the JKK as well as the city of Jaipur (which was the inspiration for JKK). Hence, Charles Correa’s ideas and Sawai Jai Singh’s visions became the inspiration as well as pivots for the exhibition. Once we found this link, the rest was easy – we decided to have a conversation between the ideas and visions of Correa and Jai Singh and the concerns and practices of the contemporary practitioners of space. We decided to have this conversation through provocations and responses – provocations emerging from ideas of Correa and Jai Singh and responses from the architects and artists.
One of the inquiries of this exhibition is to understand contemporary architectural production in India. How would the works of artists/architects give viewers an insight into the world of modern architecture?
Prasad: The works here will give the viewer an insight into the various new inquiries that both contemporary architects and architects are involved in. However, it is nowhere an exhaustive summary of contemporary architecture – but more an indicative survey of tendencies – and more accurately a conversation on contemporary explorations of space.