Art is making a serious effort to reach the masses in India with expositions in vantage public places despite official hurdles and poor awareness about art as a medium of dialogue that engages with the geography, society and culture of the site.
On the lush landscaped lawns of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), "Garden of Senses", a public installation, juts heavenward like a sentinel kissing space. The installation, made of recycled waste, engages with people with a message about environment, a key concern in public art.
Soon to become a permament landmark of IGNOU, the sculpture is an exhibit of a public art project, "Junk 2 Inbox", presented by the NIV Art Centre, a multi-discipline facility in the national capital.
The project, which featured three artists in a 15-day residency at the gallery, unveiled six public art installations on the IGNOU campus last week.
The choice of the exhibition site was guided by the consensus that it would help the students establish a dialogue with the installations, question the motives of the works and appreciate the fact that waste has aestheic utility as well, said Rajan Fulari, project curator and a senior printmaker-artist.
"The education insitutions and universities in the national capital are conspicious by the absence of public art works. The Delhi University does not have any public installations; neither does the Delhi College of Art," Fulari told IANS.
The reasons for the slow beginning of the public art movement is paucity of money, poor government aid and bureacratic red tape to install site-specific works, says gallerist and promoter Aruna Matthew.
"Galleries do not want to fund or promote public art because it is largely a voluntary exercise," Matthew told IANS.
The lone example of a public installation in the heart of the national capital is a cluster of stainless steel sprouts, symbolising a flowering landscape in the urban jungle, which stands forlorn in a patch of green near the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences. However, a handful of private institutions support public engagement with art with specially-commissioned works.