Art Beyond the Frame: DAG’s ‘City as a Museum’ Celebrates the Contextual Essence of Art in Kolkata
NOV 21, 2023 | By Namrata Dewanjee
In the bustling metropolis of Kolkata, art is not confined to galleries or museums; it is woven into the very fabric of the city—its streets and buildings imbued with stories waiting to be discovered. In an effort to celebrate this rich artistic heritage, DAG, a leading art and culture institution, is hosting a week-long art festival this November titled “City as a Museum“.
“The larger vision of the museum program at DAG is to democratize art,” says Sumona Chakravarty, Deputy Director of museums at DAG. “We want to explore the ways in which art is integral to our everyday lives and see how the history of art helps us understand our contemporary times in new ways.”
By venturing beyond the confines of traditional art spaces, the festival seeks to make art more accessible and invites people to see it as a part of the city’s shared legacy.
With each edition, the festival presents a 10-day calendar of events to create a cultural map of the city. It not only features iconic landmarks but also draws attention to hidden gems like the Roxburgh collection at the Botanic Garden in the first edition and the home of Shanu Lahiri in the second.
“This time, we are looking at the interconnections between art and design, and the ways in which aesthetic interventions have shaped our everyday lives,” says Chakravarty. In the third edition, the festival aims to cover a wide range of events, from the story of Rabindranath and Rathindranath Tagore’s experiments with furniture design to exploring the murals of the Kolkata metro.
By involving the city in a dialogue with art and design, “City as a Museum” also celebrates the people behind local crafts like making the tabla, painting the sora, or preparing sweets like sandesh, all of which contribute to the city’s cultural legacy.
The series of curated events expands the definition of art and engages with the city in a way that transcends mere observation, allowing one to truly experience its essence. The festival is also a reminder that art is not just a product of the present, but a palimpsest of stories from countless generations.
The choice of Kolkata as the city of focus is also significant. “A city like Kolkata doesn’t yet have a museum of art,” explains Chakravarty. “While we have presented museum-scale exhibitions at various institutions in Kolkata and are also in the process of building a museum at the historic home of the artist Jamini Roy, there is no single place for people to explore the rich legacy of art in the region.
With “City as a Museum,” DAG aims to fill this void by bringing together diverse sites and collections across the city to explore this history in an immersive and engaging way, bringing Bengal’s art alive in the contexts in which it was produced, and also shedding light on lesser-known aspects of the city’s cultural landscape.
Follow the third edition of ‘City as a Museum’ in Kolkata from 17th to 26th November 2023.