Mumbai is suddenly waking up to the idea of street art. In the past couple of years, the city has served as a canvas for laser graffiti and antiterrorist expressionism, wall murals and outdoor music concerts. The most recent of these is BlowUp Bombay, a photo exhibit that took place on Saturday, May 22, at a boho heritage village in Bandra, where peeling walls and century-old homes were papered with over 3,000 prints taken by photographers both professional and untrained.
The exhibit started at the opening of a tiny lane with clich?d shots of local trains and street-kid portraits. Further down, an artist painted under a Banyan tree and a photographer refused to disclose the locations of secret Indian beaches he?d shot. But, there were aspects of the show that we loved even more than the actual photos: the fact that we could take any print we liked for free. Our acquisition: a tri-series of bicycles in sepia tones.
BlowUp Bombay was organized by Blind Boys, an online Asian photography magazine. The event was attended by a diverse crowd of expats and locals, art buffs and casual passersby who mingled with residents of the ancient colony, whose lives ? despite the art invasion ?went on as usual: an old lady walked her dog, jazz drummed out from a cottage, kids played cricket, and a group of men caught a game of cards in what used to be a telephone booth.
In an adjoining open field, we caught an interesting series on the evolution of Independence Rock, Mumbai?s oldest music festival; Alone Together, a stunning collection shot by well-known supermodel Sheetal Mallar, who uses light and shadows to document Mumbai?s lonely souls; and Suburbia, a professional photographer?s picture stories of life in the big city. Her poignant shot of black stilettos lying on pink garbage can was one of the best prints in the exhibit.
On our way out, we ran into Akshay Mahajan from Blind Boys, who explained that they had organized similar events in Delhi and Paris, and hoped that BlowUp Bombay would soon turn into a monthly affair. Maybe next time around, we?ll join the clique of city photographers and show our love, too.