City Culture – Artful Pavement, IFFCO Chowk
A roadside with stories.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The sidewalk is as wide as a bazaar lane and a paved one at that. But it’s stinking of urine.
And yet you ought to come here.
Because this pavement in Gurgaon’s IFFCO Chowk starkly depicts the hard realities of a Delhi suburb that wants to be known as the Millennium City (and as the Futuristic City). Of course, no Gurgaon dweller can avoid her city’s bitter truth. Even the most privileged citizen living in the plushest towers (with helipads) must have experienced rainy-day traffic jams. But here you have the opportunity to mull over the deformities and disappointments of the city a tad aesthetically.
For this is a very special place. It inadvertently appears to be a sort of realist installation created by one of those controversy-hogging philosopher-artists whose every work silences the biennale artworlders into shock and awe.
The blue wall running along the sidewalk is painted with garish scenes of what appears to be a dream Gurgaon. Business towers are shooting up into clear blue skies. The buildings are interlinked to each other with flowers, vines, kites and similar objects of a kitschy imagination. The panel has, however, tastefully deteriorated. The paint has peeled off in various places. Posters and pamphlets plastered haphazardly across these fantasy high-rises add to the dystopia-evoking mood. Furthermore, unclaimed rusting carts, ice-cream trolleys, broken tiles and other similar debris of modern civilization are slumped beside the wall, which intensify its pessimism.
This battered sidewalk faces the multi-lane Delhi-Jaipur highway. Despite the busy traffic, pedestrians are foolishly crossing the thoroughfare as if it is just another neighbourhood lane. Nobody is using the fancy foot over-bridge, equipped with escalators.
The facing side of the highway is more ambitious. It is lined with grey business towers, the real ones, protruding high up into the air. At least this evening’s sky is truly blue making the scene seems fairly idyllic. Soon enough, a pedestrian glued on his iPhone ruins the impression by crossing over to the pavement and casually peeing on the painted wall.
The only grace still holding forth is the food cart, Shiv Nashta Corner, stacked with bread pakoras.
Visit this unintended artwork in the evening when the place fills up with evening commuters and the man at the snack cart is deep frying his delicious pakoras.
The installation this biennale