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Many faces of art



Goddesses.

SOMETHING NEW is happening at Mattanchery. So say those behind the Mayalokam Art Collective. They are creating a new platform for artists to come together and express their views about the world around.

"The world has changed a lot and now, the artist cannot remain in an ivory tower and not interact with his world,'' said Ananda Surya, one of those behind the setting up of this collective.

In other words, art is not always about selling works. "The most important thing about art is to make a statement on one's own socio-political and cultural environment.''

And for this they could not have chosen a better venue. The ambience is the first thing that impresses you. Placed right in the middle of the bazaar, you will have to manoeuvre amid men carrying sacks to enter the gallery. Chances are high that you will miss the spot unless you are quite sure about it.



Art collective.

But then, there seems to be more reasons for choosing this particular spot for the venture. "We believe that art should resist efforts at cultural homogeneity and where else, if not in Mattancherry, can we find a better specimen of plurality. As many as 13 ethnic communities, including Kashmiris, have been living here peacefully from time immemorial.''

The Mayalokam Art Collective comprises of two studios - the Lila Studio for paintings and sculptures and the Mayalokam studio for photography and design, Lila Books, a publishing unit and the Masala Company, a retail shop for designer ware.

The Lila Studio, and Mayalokam Art Collective also has presently on show 'Goddesses', an installation done jointly by Abul Kalam Azad and Emma Burke-Gaffney, a British fashion designer.

The exhibition, which takes off from the posters of call-girls in the metro of London, is an artistic protest against the female body becoming a commodity. The space is being experimented upon by placing folded mattresses and pillows suspended in air, while manipulated advertisements decorate the walls. The space inside this high-roofed hall itself becomes an exhibit and by stepping inside, the viewer and the dog which hangs around too become part of it. "An art expression cannot be sold. And that is exactly the idea we want to communicate.''

For her part, Emma is one of the most sought after fashion designers in the London circuit and a regular at the London Fashion Week. She skipped the show during last spring to set up The Masala Company, which "is the only retail shop of dress and accessories designed by me.''

Otherwise, she interacts with leading departmental stores by providing products of Emily Shoehorn - that is her brand name - in bigger consignments.

With Lila Books also starting to roll, hopefully in another month or so, the Mayalokam Art Collective will become fully operational.

By Anand Haridas

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