Litfest installation rekindles writers’ memories of city

Written By kom nampultig on Kamis, 04 Desember 2014 | 22.23

A whirl of vivid images, a buzzing cocoon of power and seduction, a clutch of seven filthy islands, waiting to be flushed out of existence, and the future of urban civilization—writers across generations have never found Mumbai, or Bombay, lacking in inspiration.

From the works of Saadat Hasan Manto to Rohinton Mistry, the city has featured as a background, or often, a character in itself. These stories have created a literary undercurrent of sorts, often overlooked in favour of its flashier cousin, commerce.

On Friday, when the curtains rise on the Times Litfest, an installation by Studio X puts the focus firmly on Mumbai's literary side. Visitors trooping into Mehboob Studio would be forgiven for thinking they accidently wandered into a quaint library instead. There will be shelves stacked with books, chairs where you can curl up and spend a few happy hours reading, and wood-panelled structures engraved with passages on Mumbai by authors and poets like Manto, Nissim Ezekiel, Arun Kolatkar and Mark Twain.

The furniture used in the installation has been rented from movie prop houses and will be filled with books throughout the three-day-long festival. Photographs of Mumbai from the Times of India's archives will also be suspended between the various structures.

"The pop-up is as much about literature as it is about reflecting or 'reading' the city and its nuances," said Studio X's curator, Rajeev Thakker. "The passages chosen reflect a colourful cross-section of experiences and moments that most of us living here have experienced. We hope to have people sharing their knowledge of how places in the city have played a role in literature."

The installation is rooted in the Studio X philosophy. The 4000-sq-ft space in Fort, funded by New York's Columbia University, is a collaborative platform that encourages research and the reimagining of urban spaces. Thakker hopes that the Times Litfest installation communicates the potential of a sensibly planned city. "It plays to everyone living here and their own experience. We hope to show how well-designed public spaces can do much more than what people currently imagine."

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