Posts Tagged ‘found objects’

In India, a man who saw sculptural possibilities in castaways has left behind hundreds of pieces of art in a public rock garden.

Nek Chand, an Indian artist who rose to prominence by quietly building a sprawling kingdom of folk sculptures in northern India that became one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, died on [June 12] in Chandigarh. He was 90. …

“Mr. Chand’s life’s work, known as the Rock Garden of Chandigarh, covers several acres and is populated by rock sculptures and figures of dancing women and animals, many of them fashioned from found objects like the mudguards of motorcycles and broken bangles.

“It stands in contrast to the striking if neglected government buildings conceived by Le Corbusier, who planned Chandigarh — the capital of the states of Punjab and Haryana — in the 1950s.

“For some, the Rock Garden, which has thousands of visitors a day, is an antidote to what, with its stark Modernist buildings, is seen as something of a bureaucrat’s city. …

“Mr. Chand was born Nek Chand Saini on Dec. 15, 1924, in the village of Barian Kalan, which became part of Pakistan after partition. He was newly arrived in the city of Chandigarh just after India’s independence in 1947. He worked for the government as a road inspector, according to the Department of Chandigarh Tourism website. But, [Rupan Deol Bajaj, a retired government functionary] said, he became fascinated by found objects, including weather-beaten rocks.

“ ‘I started building this garden as a hobby’ in the 1950s, he said in an interview with Agence France-Presse in December. ‘I had many ideas, I was thinking all the time. I saw beauty and art in what people said was junk.’

“By night he slipped onto a patch of land and artfully arranged rocks and construction waste behind a barricade of empty tar drums.”

The garden was a secret for a long time. When the authorities learned about it, a debate on its future ensued. But, says the Times reporter, “a groundswell of support led to its official opening to the public in 1976.” More here.

Photo: Reuters
Nek Chand, at 76, next to one of his sculptures. He died in June at age 90.

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A busy holiday here in New England with both our kids, their spouses, and the two grandsons. Every time we thought we were nearly done opening presents, one or more of us needed a nap.

The distaff side produced a chicken masala (with rice, nuts, raisins, cilantro, coconut, and chutney from Swaziland via the Servv catalog), creamed spinach, salad, and pear crumble.

Meanwhile, here’s a Christmas-y story from South America …

“In 2001, when Argentina’s economy was near collapse and property prices plummeted, UCLA art prof Fabian Wagmister bought a 15,000-square-foot abandoned warehouse in Buenos Aires. When he finally set out to clear the remaining debris from the building last year, he uncovered more than 100,000 Christmas ornaments piled in one of the back rooms.

“What to do with a trove of metallic bulbs, plastic wreaths, and bags of fake snow for a sunny Argentine Christmas?

“Re-gift them, of course,” writes Elise Hennigan at Pacific Standard.

“ ‘As artists we were immediately taken by the powerful expressive potential of the materials,’ says Wagmister.

“Now the director of the University of California, Los Angeles’s Center for Research in Engineering, Media, and Performance (REMAP), Wagmister invited a team of ten artists, researchers, and programmers from Los Angeles to distribute the ornaments to the surrounding community …

“Starting on December 15, the team invited community groups to visit the warehouse, one among many lining a historically working-class district that has seen an influx of technology companies. There, the researchers have encouraged participants to develop projects that will use the ornaments to express their identities, struggles and aspirations. On December 23, the groups took to the streets and decked the halls accordingly.” More.

 Photograph: Pacific Standard
Some of the found ornaments going up around Argentina’s capital

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