Mobile Phones Turn into Exhibition Space in Art Fair Project - The New Indian Express

Mobile Phones Turn into Exhibition Space in Art Fair Project

Published: 31st January 2014 01:45 PM

Last Updated: 31st January 2014 01:53 PM

Cellphones have now been turned into art spaces as part of a unique project, launched at the sixth edition of India Art Fair here, that aims to make sound art publicly accessible and has participation by domestic and international artists.

"Not everyone goes to galleries or art fairs, but everyone has a cell phone, so we wondered what would happen if we turned cell phones into an exhibition space," Diana Campbell Betancourt, co-curator of the project 'Listen Up!' told PTI.

Diana, who is based in Mumbai has collaborated with New York-based curator Tim Goossens for the project, which proposes to transform the way audiences in the city experience art using digital platforms like cellular phones.

Sound has always been an important medium for many artists globally and institutions such as the Tate in London and Khoj have recently dedicated exhibitions to it. For some artists, sound is a booster dose that adds to the experience of viewing art and some even use it to convey a message.

Random sounds from households across the country, some chirping sounds of birds, and taped random conversations in Hindi, Bengali, Kashmiri, Malayalam and other languages by over 30 artists make up sound clips in the art project.

Mumbai-based artist Baptist Coelho has been fascinated with air. In his work titled "On the edge #2" Coelho studies air as breath, with each breath being inhaled and exhaled rhythmically through the lungs. The audio loop art work is being played in elevators at the Select City Walk Mall in Saket.

The curators say they "hoped to induce amusement that no elevator music can rival, while making the audience very conscious of these extremely personal and private gestures placed in a public domain."

"The idea was to widen the idea of what art can be – and to make it accessible to a very wide public. We have artworks in Hindi, Bengali, English, and some that don't rely on language at all. We also showcase works from the 1960s to 2014, showing that sound art is not a new concept," Diana said.

The art project is also available as a mobile phone application that can be downloaded free on IOS and Android phones.

"This application is inspired by vintage telephones and telephone books. A similar conceptual art exhibition in 1960s called 'Art by Telephone' at Chicago Museum was presented to the public and the look of the application ties into this history," Diana said.

"This exhibition proposes to blur the boundary between phones for art and phones for use, inviting the public to transform their own devices into a channel for an exhibition," the curator said.

Co-curator Tim Goossens who is also a curator at the Clocktower in New York which has its own radio station feels that radio is an important platform to spread art to the public. "Some famous sound artists such as Bill Fontana used the radio in order to begin their careers using the medium," Goossens said.

"Currently there are nearly 30 artists participating in the sound art project, and we get requests daily to be a part of it. We have been very selective about what works to include as we don't want to overwhelm audiences,"Diana told PTI.

Japanese artist Yoko Ono had in 1961 exhibited the sound art "Cough Piece". Many other artists have shown at the Venice Biennale, Whitney Biennale, and other important institutions globally.

"At Listen Up! we even have an artist who was part of the recent MoMA show Soundings in New York and we are showing two of his works here,"Diana said.

Another artist Rohini Devasher has for the past two years been working on a form of collective investigation with amateur astronomers in Delhi, collecting stories, interviews, conversations and histories.

Her work "Shadow Walkers" uses maps connected to sound devices that help the audience connect with occurrences in the skies.

Bangkok based Varsha Nair presents "Swell" a work created in collaboration with Virginia Hilyard from Australia. The work is a recording of crickets from a backyard in Bangkok.

"Hawk-a-Day" is a recording of hawkers from the Mehrauli area in Delhi by Rashmi Kaleka.


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