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Lubna Chowdhary, ‘Metropolis’, (1991-2018)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Metropolis by Lubna Chowdhary.

About the Artwork

Title : Metropolis
Artist : Lubna Chowdhary
Year : 1991-2018
Medium : Multi object work

Metropolis by Lubna Chowdhary’s  is a collection of a 1000 delicate ceramic sculptures, resembling odd and toy-like forms, as though from some another universe. Taking 29 years to complete her installation, the sculptures are all carefully placed in a glass exhibit, allowing the viewer to experience the installation from various views.

Giving the impression of a China Cabinet –it holds within itself the microcosm of the entire world as the artist views it.  “What I’ve tried to do with it is give a sense of human production over time, so it includes iconic design objects and everyday objects.” Says Lubna about her painstakingly created project that she has nurtured over three decades ! The quality of the china cabinet since time immemorial has been that it holds precious toys that are to be looked upon and cherished but are too delicate to hold. There is an essential delicateness about these pieces that immediately add to their charm.

The miniature objects can easily be argued to be design icons. They include a Coca-Cola bottle, a Zippo cigarette lighter and a Bic razor with a white handle and a little orange hood, each intricately made in clay, painted and glazed to reveal their bright colours. The installation also depicts objects from the past, such as an antiquated pressure cooker, an old vacuum cleaner and a visibly out of vogue pram. Chowdhury is fascinated by the way in which objects inform our understanding of history.

About Chowdhary

The artist explores how we can be uniquely shaped by the same environment, by offering a range of perspectives to built architecture, subverted through her fragile forms. There is a hidden message  in Metropolis.  Offering a post-colonial response to the decorative relics of the Empire that often sit behind museum glass, pretty much like a china cabinet as was mentioned before.

Chowdhary has been working on the installation in bursts since the late 1990s. It forms a massive archive or memory bank of objects through modern history, but also reflects her own living memory as a designer-maker.

The Kochi Biennale, curated by Anita Dube, saw the work of several female artists. Lubna Chowdhary’s work was one of many  by female artists that were a part of the biennale.


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