Studio-X Mumbai


Rajeev Thakker, director

Over the past year, Studio-X Mumbai has further tested its role in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge and information by participating in an increasingly diverse set of programs ranging from talks and lectures, exhibitions, conferences, workshops and public installations. The questions posed through innovative formats have reconceptualized concepts integral to the development of cities and enabled Studio-X Mumbai to become an increasingly relevant space for exploring the practical resolve and theoretical debate on the future of cities.

In 2012, Studio-X Mumbai continued a unique discursive series with Time Out entitled ‘Multipolis Mumbai.’ From architectural backpacking with Atelier Ashley Munday to lunar architecture with outer space architects Susmita Mohanty and Barbara Imhof, discussions have explored the relationship between the environment, theater, fashion, film, literature, innovation and the development of cities.

Committed to examining key urban issues afflicting Mumbai, Studio-X serves as a mediator of local debate and collaborates with key organizations and expertise. The Urbanvision brought together local transport specialists and GSAPP urban planning expert Geeta Mehta in ‘Mera Mumbai: Walkable or Carcentric City?’ to discuss how transportation effects daily life. EMBARQIndia and Columbia Alumni have coordinated events such as, ‘Building a Cycling Culture in Copenhagen’ by Lotte Bech and ‘Bicycle Sharing’ with Amit Bhatt to address the progress of cycling in society and its positive effect on cities. Through an ongoing collaboration, PUKAR ‘Monsoon’ highlighted research by Mumbai’s youth on urban knowledge and the circulation of ideas. In conjunction with Fresh and Local and The Root, several talks and discussions such as ‘Farm for the Future’ and the film screening of ‘Timbaktu’ tackled ongoing questions of equitable food production and access techniques between rural and urban centers. A GSAPP architectural studio led by Eric Bunge and Mimi Hoang entitled ‘Mumbai Concrete Paradox’ took on the design of the current Mumbai Metro project and presented student proposals to local government agencies like the MTSU and MMRDA as well as transport specialist EMBARQIndia and architect activist Nitin Killawala.

Politics, the arts and urban life were brought into the forum through lectures such as Saskia Sassen’s ‘The Global Street,’ which asks whether public space can offer rhetorical and operational openings for the powerless, and ‘Small Men and the Big World: Comic Art as Social Commentary’ by Subendhu Dasgupta and Gokul Gopalahrishnan, sponsored by the India Foundation for the Arts and The Mohile Parikh Center, which presented the role of vernacular comic art in India in shaping socio-political discourse. Programs related to the arts included ‘Open Show,’ a presentation of photographers, filmmakers and multimedia artists working on the theme of the city. ‘Tall Tales’ became Mumbai’s very first live storytelling event and ‘Dystopia and Urban Imagination’ screened films dealing with visions of future urbanity in film.

Interest in engaging the city led to a partnership between artist Tobias Megerle and Studio-X in designing a public installation for the BMW Guggenheim Lab at Mahim beach entitled ‘Privacy Please,’ which posed questions about the complicated relationship between public and private space in Mumbai. Related workshops brought together inquisitive communities eager to engage in topics like art deco appreciation and history supported by AVID or ‘Collaborative Bridges,’ run in conjunction with the Goethe Institute, which proposed frameworks for multi-disciplinary intersections as a way of connecting ideas globally. ‘Farmer Funda’ brought organic farming and cooking to the space with a focus on how to secure food availability and production by participating in the process. The ‘Locating Out-Sourcing Workshop,’ curated by the CCCP program at GSAPP, established a comparative between New York and Mumbai by analyzing and reimagining how these cities feed back into each other through their outsourcing practices, the differences among them and their means of interexchange.

Studio-X exhibitions engaged a wide variety of subjects ranging from displacement as in ‘GHAR’, to dramatic urban visions of cities as in ‘Now & When: Australian Urbanism’ in collaboration with the Australian Government and the India Design Forum. Through the third year of partnership with Artoxygen, a public art advocacy organization, Studio-X organized ‘Encounters 2013: POWERplay’ to investigate the role of energy as a resource for social criticism. ‘Lost Highway,’ a photographic exhibition by Chantal Stoman, expressed the part common to all great cities where borders no longer exist and language becomes universal. Concepts to reinstate nature inside the city was the focus of ‘Happy Owners’ by Soazic Guezennec with the support of the Alliance Française along with multiple workshops engaging children and professionals on creating more symbiotic urban visions. ‘What is Foreclosed?’ an exhibition produced by GSAPP and The Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, displayed proposals focusing on new forms of housing by five architectural firms. ‘Housing without Developers? India and America,’ a related workshop, addressed architecture, housing policy, dispossession, and social equity by comparing ongoing developments in Indian and American contexts with participating experts including Reinhold Martin, Kamu Iyer, Neera Adarkar, SPARC, URBZ, Bhoomi, Javed Iqbal, TISS and CRIT. ‘The philosopher, the believers and the z’shell-ter’ by Francois Roche, Camille Lacadee, Ezio Blasetti, Stephan Heinrich and Danielle Willems portrayed the architectural intersection of philosophy, theology and social complexity through an installation and film screening performance.

The agenda for 2013-14 will bring the development of research projects and collaborations between premiere architects, academic and government institutions to the forefront of importance. Studio-X is poised to not only mediate the dialogue but contribute positively and practically to resolving issues plaguing urban development in India and globally.

Studio-X Mumbai “Foreclosed” A
Happy Owner B
Lost Highway C
Now When D
Outsourcing E
Saskia Sassen F