The Performative Photography of Atul Bhalla

The artist spends a lot of time walking around, exploring and immersing himself in the beauty of the landscape.

Jun 30, 2016 00:00 IST Updated: Oct 11, 2018 16:10 IST
2016-06-30T00:00:00+05:30
The Performative Photography of Atul Bhalla Mumbai Walk, 21st July, 10:20 a.m. to 12:54 p.m., by Atul Bhalla. Archival pigment print, 40 × 91 inches, 2007. Image courtesy: Vadehra Art Gallery.

Artist Atul Bhalla has travelled the entire arc from painting and conceptual art to settling on photography as the medium to introduce elements of performance in his art. Since 2005, he has given way to a new form of expression, what he calls 'performative photography'. For Bhalla, the medium is incidental, the idea, creative process and conceptualization are key to his artwork.

He spends a lot of time walking around, exploring and immersing himself in the beauty of the landscape. The underbelly, to him, is the heart of a city, and remains an interest. For example, water sources and sewage lines, which are often invisible, yet form the bedrock of the city. Most of his ideas emerge, he feels, as he explores these hidden, treacherous layers of the city.

In this work, Bhalla maps all the drains along Marine Drive, from Chowpatty Beach to Nariman Point, while walking around Mumbai on a July morning. He created a stunning grid that looks like a run-down housing block from a distance. His images are deceptively simple, but can have multiple interpretations: scratch the surface and you're faced with the urban squalor that surrounds us.

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