There’s more to Chandigarh than just Le Corbusier and the Rock Garden.
A new book, Chandigarh Is In India, seeks to rescue the city from its image of being the dull laboratory of modern Indian architecture and link it to the creative process instead.
Co-authored by Shanay Jhaveri, assistant curator of South Asian art at New York’s Metropolitan Museum, the book explores how various artists have used Corbusier’s architecture and the city itself in their work. “The book is very interested in thinking through how a building lingers in one’s memory, how architecture resonates…” said Jhaveri.
The book contains over 250 colour and black-and-white images – the work of 10 artists inspired by Chandigarh. Here are five who have captured the essence of the city.
1. Manuel Bougot
The French photographer’s Chandigarh: Portrait Of A City (2010-2012) takes us away from Corbusier’s modernist model city and into the city’s homes. Bougot’s photographs of interiors remind the viewer that the city is more than just a grid of concrete blocks. Its people make up the city too.
2. Cyprien Gaillard
This mixed-media artist’s two-part project comprises polaroid shots of palm trees he encountered while travelling around India – in Delhi, Kolkata, Goa, Mumbai and Varanasi. In the second section, Palm Study II, the photographs of palm trees have been shot only in Chandigarh. Parts of buildings appear in the background, but the focus is always the palm trees that serve to connect Chandigarh to the rest of India.
3. Gavin Hipkins
Hipkins’ Leisure Valley takes its title from the green belt of Chandigarh that Corbusier conceptualised as the lungs of the city. Hipkins brings together several pictures from different sectors of Chandigarh, juxtaposing the modernist elements of the planned city with images of present-day decay.
4. Shezad Dawood
Cities Of The Future, by multi-media artist Dawood connects Corbusier’s modernist designs with “tantric symbols”. Dawood’s work binds together architecture and sacred geometry using a combination of pieces on vintage textiles and neon wall sculptures.
5. Seher Shah
Using collages, Shah’s Capitol Complex reveals a disorienting image of Chandigarh. “Her collages are quite reductive, zeroing in on a particular detail or aspect, isolating elements on a white background, and erasing parts of the original photograph – almost skinning Chandigarh off some of its most iconic details,” writes Jhaveri in the book.