The Madras Craft Foundation is happy to present this publication based on the seminar 'Urban Visualities'. The publication seeks to explore the different manifestations of art in urban streets and neighborhoods and to probe what that art tells us about our lives and society, and who is telling the stories and why.
Our cities have always had art. The personalized, decorated food stalls and small shops and kiosks have defined the human scale and individuality of our Indian cities throughout the 20th century. The built landscape has grown organically providing for the needs and social and religious spaces of each small community. Traditional buildings stand beside a mix of eclectic, sometimes. eccentric, deeply personalized buildings which include upward growth to provide for growing families. As a young American musician with a penchant for exploring neighborhoods on foot recently remarked to me, "What al joy. Art is all around."
This publication includes many of the papers presented at the Madras Craft Foundation's Urban Visualities Seminar held at DakshinaChitra between 28-30 January, 2011. The seminar was enriched by an exhibition that ran until 2 February and a series of performances. The presentations not included here were either already committed to other modes of distribution or went in directions that may have more appropriate dissemination elsewhere.
The history of Tamil Nadu's dovetailing of cinema and politics and its impressive use of larger than life cutouts, omnipresent murals, posters and hoardings provided an excellent background to conduct a workshop on urban visualities. How do these images create urban spaces? How do they attract some and exclude others? We would like to thank Sharat Nambiar, Indhumathi Mohan, Rekha Vijayshankar, and Amirthanathan.
Gita, program officer and coordinator, has been a great support with her enthusiasm. Without their hard work and dedication, the seminar, and thus the publication, would not have been possible. Karl Beelen created the seminar image, now used as the book cover. We also want to thank all the staff and workers at DakshinaChitra, who always step forward for special events. Deborah Thiagarajan, the visionary founder of both the Madras Craft Foundation and DakshinaChitra, was instrumental in the organization of the seminar and this publication.
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