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In Conversation With Aaditi Joshi, Artist

Nirmala Garimella

(This article is sponsored by Tanna Insurance)

Work by four Indian contemporary artists soon on view at MFA, Boston in “Megacities Asia”


Monumental sculptures and installations represent the unique urban environments of Beijing, Shanghai, Mumbai, Delhi, and Seoul—Asian megacities with populations of 10 million or more—in the MFA, Boston’s upcoming exhibition Megacities Asia. The artists—some well-known, others emerging—respond to the unprecedented scale and pace of 21st-century South and East Asian urban life by gathering and arranging everyday objects, using the city itself as their medium, to create immersive physical experiences that evoke and respond to recent conditions in these Asian metropolises. Their large-scale works appear in indoor and outdoor spaces throughout the Museum, reflecting critical issues including rural-to-urban migration, consumption, construction, and pollution—while celebrating the vibrancy of today’s urban environment.



April 3 - July 17


Laura Weinstein, Ananda Coomaraswamy Curator of South Asian art and co-curator of  “Megacities Asia,” explains the common thread among the exhibition’s contemporary artists based in five of Asia’s largest and most dynamic cities: “this group of artists shares a strategy: they’re using accumulation. And the objects they’re accumulating are everyday things that are available in their city. Each of these works comments in some way on what it’s like to live in that city today. One way we like to think about it is that the artists have combed through their landscape, through the public and private spaces around them, for things that feel significant to them. And through which they can express something that’s important to them.”


Four artists from South Asia are included in the exhibition: Subodh Gupta and Asim Waqif from Delhi, Hema Upadhyay and Aaditi Joshi from Mumbai. Subodh Gupta’s installation Take off your shoes and wash your hands (2008) is comprised of rows and rows of stainless steel dish racks, commonly seen in Indian kitchens. Gupta, arguably the most prominent contemporary Indian artist today, will be present at the MFA on March 23 to speak about this work and his artistic practice in general in a lecture:http://www.mfa.org/programs/lecture/subodh-gupta-coexistence-ritual-and-growth. For free tickets to the lecture, please email Lauren Richmond: lrichmond@mfa.org.


Aaditi Joshi, a younger artist for whom this will be her first museum show in America, works with plastic bags that she sources in her native city of Mumbai. Aaditi recently answered questions from Lokvani about her work.

Where did you study art? Did you do sculpture from the very beginning?


Basically I m trained from art school as a painter,  I did my graduation in

Drawing and painting, in (1996-2001).from L.S. Raheja School of art, 

Bandra, Mumbai. But I always admired three-dimensional forms. Once I was using plastic surface to paint, and as a part of my experiment while I was fusing the plastic bag with a candle it showed some very interesting moments and the bag turned into dimensional surface and that was the moment I found the possibility of a dimensional form in a plastic bag. not completely three dimensional but I observed that some three dimensional possibilities are there.


How/why did you start using plastic bags?

  Since beginning Transparent visual, is what attracted me the most as a surface and medium. I am much more surrounded by the usage of plastic in my city. plastic carry bags which are so commonly used in India or as packing material, so  it has come towards me very naturally. 

Initially what attracted me to work in the Plastic bag was Its ability to mold easily, once the surface heated ,even a slight heat with a candle helps the surface mold in a particular shape and remains in that specific shape even after it gets cool ,

 How did the 2005 flood in Maharashtra affect you personally? What was  your experience of that event like?

The flood has that affect on me like any other common person do, But I was more touched by this as my hometown Mumbai encountered this heavy flood on 26th July 2005, when plastic bags majorly chocked the drainage, and bins and roads were overloaded with plastic litter and other ton of garbage and the heaps of trash, which were difficult to ignore, It all affects deeply and yet the heap forms kept inspiring me in the form and shape and forces me working with the duality of beauty / trash, of flowers and garbage. And this is what exactly I realize as a promising area to explore my work. 

Are there Indian artists, past or present, whose work has inspired you?

There are many artists which I like, but there is no direct impact on my work, I am very much inspired by my daily living experiences and happenings around the city Mumbai. I source my medium and my inspiration both from them.

What do you hope people will take away from seeing your installation in the

 MFA’s  Megacities Asia exhibition?


As an artist I feel little unfair to think only from a one particular side , we as a human being all are aware that plastic is affecting our planet in various ways. But on the other side I keep questioning my self that we all are using plastic limitless in our living. If the production of plastic stops plastic manufacturing industries and the employees depending on them will be in a complete loss ,

When I was asked for the MFA show, I was a little worried that I will be presenting a work in such a country in US where the usage of plastic is not like India, as I make work using plastic bags. So the reaction from the viewer will be obvious.  Though it is true that Plastic is polluting our society , but this another side of plastic, as an artist I am trying to show through my work. 

 Through a blend of total control and total spontaneity, I interact and experiments with my medium, through this I invite viewer to look at objects bypassed and overlooked...with fresh eyes.

I am hoping that as an artistic form (this another side which I see as an artist ) visitors will carry these memories  with them. 



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