St+art’s WIP Show — celebrating the ever changing nature of the city, art and streets
While going from Mehrauli towards Badarpur, take a left after crossing the scenic site of Tughlaqabad fort ruins. You instantly notice a huge hill on the right side of the road. Once it is close, you realize that the hill is actually made from garbage dump — it is Okhla landfill site. Take a right and you come across a series of trucks with large shipping containers on both sides of the road leaving only enough space for a car to pass. After about 500 meters, when you take a left, at some distance, you see the Indian national flag proudly flying in the sky. Right beside it, there are some strangely painted containers. The people working there seem a bit puzzled about it.
We are at the largest dry port in Asia — ICD (Inland Container Depot) Tughlakabad, Okhla. When I enter the compound, from the way I’m dressed the parking guy recognizes that I’m not one of the usual faces arriving at CONCOR, but one of the visitors to this strange new thing in the compound. Just a month back it used to be a parking space for them, but some new faces are collecting there every day, painting random shipping containers. For me also, this is an unusual place to see an art exhibition.
100 Shipping Container
1000 Litres of paint
1 City of changes
The name of this exhibition is ‘Work in Progress Show’ or WIP Show — signifying the spirit of Delhi where some sort of construction is always in progress. Quite literally also, these artists will be working on their creations on the site throughout the time of this exhibition. For the purpose, 31,200 sq ft. of ICD has been transformed into a walk-through installation of murals. It opens up for general public on 1st February and it will remain so till the end of February, where 25 street art specialists from different countries will be collecting, coloring 100 containers with their imagination. WIP Show is a part of ongoing Street Art Festival in Delhi.
The show retains its roots of street art by having a space that is constantly transforming — unlike the usual static experience of an art gallery or museum. Through WIP, St+art India Foundation aims to create an art-hub in an unexpected space to offer diverse sectors of society newer experiences, especially to people who are usually excluded from the reach of art.
Quite natural to the exhibition, the entry is made through a shipping container, which is open from both sides. Once I’m there, I’m greeted by a large scale mural of an astronaut on 3 vertically stacked shipping containers. I’ve never seen anything like this before. I keep staring at it for minutes. I return back from my internal monologue when the guard gives me an orange colored brochure at the entry gate. The brochure has details about the layout of this space with a paragraph on WIP:
WIP — The nature of the city, of space, of street art.
New Delhi is always under construction, always transforming, it is a continuous work in progress. WIP celebrates this essence of an ever-changing city by having a space that is constantly evolving.
This is an open lab, a peek into the artist’s process. Over the next month several more artists will join the show and create artworks onsite.
I stay at the venue for about an hour and a half. The humble organizers even help me with a walk around the murals and answer my questions. I was curious on how they settled with this place which is quite an unusual choice for an exhibition of this sorts. The Chief Manager of CONCOR, Sanjay Bajpai, asked the organizers during the previous edition of street art festival in Delhi, if they were interested in this space. Upon seeing it, they realised the kind of perspective it could give to the art and the difference it could make to the people who worked in this area.
While entering the exhibition, I was happy to see that most of the people had written ‘ICD’ in the ‘from’ column of the entry register I was signing.
Another interesting bit about this exhibition is that once it is closed, all the shipping containers here shall remain painted and travel in India for transporting goods. Isn’t it amazing?
The shipping container below is a special one. It was painted by a Delhi based sign painter — Shabbu. Before it was kept in this exhibition, this container transported bananas all across India. On the other side, Shabbu has painted over 1000 fruit stalls in and around Delhi in his career.