BENGALURU: Alarge city changes in a myriad different ways and an ongoing online exhibition can swing you back to the past through a series of images etched in popular memory. Bengaluru’s Museum of Art and Photography (MAP) has displayed photomontages of sculptural artiste Shanthamani M as part of Past Continuous, an online exhibit which gives you a glimpse of how the city’s landscape and landmarks have changed. It also includes a series of related events, including an online session on Wednesday featuring cartoonist Paul Fernandes and photographer Cop Shiva.
From hidden bylanes to traditional communities, Fernandes’ photomontages seek to capture the age-old culture and lifestyle of Bengaluru. During the session, Fernandes picked some pictures from his book Bangalore - Swinging in the 70’s and recalls the 1970s as a ‘gentler time’ when people stopped to meet and greet each other, and a time when horse-driven jatkas were summoned for longer journeys, and when cycling without a kerosene oil lamp was a serious crime.
Fernandes explains that the idea for the photomontage came about when old buildings in Pottery Town, near Bangalore East Railway Station, were razed to make way for apartment complexes. “I lived in a bungalow near Pottery Town with many fruit trees and a big compound. A lot of these old buildings and structures were pulled down to make way for New Bangalore.
I couldn’t help but admire their beautiful proportions. I started drawing them with a sense of nostalgia to counter the sadness I felt seeing them being pulled down so rapidly,” says Fernandes. He went on to show pictures of Plaza Theatre (now MG Road Metro Station), Bangalore Club, Coffee House, Airlines Hotel (which legendary artiste MF Hussain was known to frequent), and other well-known restaurants. Fernandes’ photomontage also captures iconic colleges like St Joseph’s and Mount Carmel College which document the lifestyles of the city’s young people in the late 70s and 80s.
B S Shivaraju (popularly known as Cop Shiva), on the other hand, has three bodies of work that show how the city is changing and growing. The three themes that the Bengaluru- based artiste, photographer and a former cop chose were ‘before it all goes’, ‘urban ecstasy’ and ‘street as studio’. “I have been documenting places in Bengaluru for 20 years since I was a cop. There are these specific places I closely watch, and they give me great stories to capture,” says Shiva.
Shiva has documented life in central Bengaluru’s bustling markets (KR Market, Kalasipalya), traditional wrestling houses (garadi mane), mural paintings, street performers, migrant labours. “I share stories of local culture, street performers, migrant labourers because these people are extraordinary people who usually find it hard to adapt to the city’s social conditions. I was also an outsider to Bengaluru and found it difficult to adapt. So I wanted to explore their lives, and see how the city has impacted them socially, culturally and economically,” says Shiva. The exhibition can be accessed through MAP’s website.