Millennium Post

Mall rats in grid boxes soon?

Mall rats in grid boxes soon?
Cyber Mohalla Hubs might just become the future hub of cultural and intellectual activities
A multi-purpose vertical box as the culture space of the future? When built space in crammed urban metropolises shrink to matchbox settlements, popular culture and intellectual activity will have to accommodate themselves in 3x6 metre community hubs.

In states like Delhi, cultural interface will then take place in Cyber Mohalla Hubs — a futuristic concept of a community centre that blurs the boundaries between storage, display, activity, dialogue, inside and outside with a multi-purpose design.

A model of a Cyber Mohalla Hub designed by India-based German avant garde artists Nikolaus Hirsch and Michele Muller has been displayed at the Devi Art Foundation — a private archive owned by collectors Lekha and Anupam Poddar. It is trying to open a broad-based cultural dialogue around utility and space in a nine-month new media arts project Sarai Reader 09.

The three-storeyed hub is built from a single block of woodply-board. It stands like a ragged edifice in the courtyard of the archive.

The specification of 3x6 metres — around the vertical and horizontal length — is designed to fit the Delhi Rehabilitation Colony plots at Ghevra on the northwest edge of the Capital, where the artists’ ensemble has built one as a pilot.

The ensemble of artists wanted to explore how cultural and intellectual activity could evolve in a resettlement sprawl in minimal space and on austerity of scale — yet ensuring maximum engagement.

The mohalla with its grid of storage, writing, display and performance space in mini-cubicles can work with 70 performers across an arc of genres like animation, photography, storytelling, performance, radio, broadsheets, wall writing, magazines and blogging.

The participants can park themselves on small writing seats carved into the inner facade of the building amid the file cabinets and bookshelves. The exhibition has been curated by a Delhi-based artists’ collective, Raqs Media Collective.

Hirsch and Muller has collaborated with the Cybermohalla Ensemble of the Society for Alternatives in Education (SARAI) — an umbrella of foreign and Indian artists working in Delhi — to search alternative infrastructure for creative life in Delhi.

‘At the Devi Art Foundation prototype, the Cyber Mohalla team will run a bureau of contemporary jobs inside the building, besides hosting cultural dialogues, during the nine-month exhibition period. The team will be rethinking jobs in the contemporary milieu,’ said architect-artist Nikolaus Hirsch.

He said the idea had been ‘long in process — for five years since 1 May, 2007’. ‘It came like a satellite as a result of intense collaborative workshops,’ he said.


At: Sirpur House, Plot No. 39, Sector 44, Behind Epicentre
On Till:16 April
Timings:1am To 7pm
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