Dia Mehta Bhupal’s Duchampian instincts find form in her papier-mâché creations
DIA MEHTA Bhupal’s ‘public restroom’ installation titled Bathroom Set, at the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale, is likely to raise comparisons to the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s recent solid-gold toilet at New York’s Guggenheim Museum.
A photographer and artist from Mumbai who currently lives and works in Hyderabad, Dia uses repurposed paper to craft public spaces. She created the installation out of papier-mâché and photo-prints. The work is a part of a series, including large diasec photo prints of her other papier-mâché structures, such as a supermarket, a clinic, a bookstore and the inside of an airplane.
Dia used rolls of recycled paper to create 3,500 wall tiles, with each tile containing 350 rolls of paper. In all, there are 250 tiles on the floor and 138 tiles on the ceiling of the set. Built over 15 months through “an intensive and meditative process,” the work evokes divergent sensibilities.
Bathroom Set appears flat and two-dimensional at first, but a closer look reveals subtle variances on the surface. “I constantly question whether the experience or moment is real,” says Dia. She’s also interested in the ephemeral nature of life — how it keeps changing, and how each person views the change in a different way, explains the artist.
“Over time, I realised that most of my relationships – be they public, private or secret – reflected on experiences I had felt before. It was different, but familiar in a strange kind of way,” offers Dia, speaking about her Duchampian instincts.
Dia spends hours constructing habitats using cut-outs from magazines, which she then glues together “like building blocks”. Incorporating still-life, photojournalism, documentary and fashion photography in her practice, Dia works with ideas of objectification. “Capturing something of the ‘unreality’ in the mundane existences of people’s lives, in the labour and repetitive action of everyday life, informs my work,” she says.
Dia’s works are on display at Aspinwall House and Anand Warehouse until March 29, 2017.