Young Graduate Summer Residency – Sonam Chaturvedi

Sonam Chaturvedi, a recent graduate from Shiv Nadar University, joined us for the Young Graduate Summer Residency Programme in June. Her residency culminated in a open studio that was attended by artists, art enthusiasts and collectors.

We asked her some questions about her practice and her time in Mumbai:

1. What are some of the things that influence your art practice? E.g certain books/writers/music/film/artists?

There are various things I absorb and they settle down unconsciously within me, these can be an art work, a poem, or a line from a book etc. Mostly I still don’t know where they are coming from but a few which I can state here would include Albert Camus’s Myth of Sysiphus, Henri Bergson’s concept of duration, T.S. Eliot’s poem Burnt Norton, Mail art by Ray Johnson, George Carlin’s stand up comedy on time, Jan Svankmajer’s short film Food, and the news scroll on Hindi news channels which I’m unable to follow due to lack of Hindi reading habit, among others. Apart from these external references, the most influential and helpful resource for my practice is solitude, and the words written to reflect those silent moments.

DSC_0048 copy

2. What do you hope to achieve when people look at your work?

My work deals with aspects of human psychology at a functional level, where I try to narrow the viewer’s attention to a minute moment or thought which otherwise one ignores in daily life. In some works, I focus on the experience it generates due to its immersive atmosphere, while some works try to bring people out of their comfort zones and interact with the artwork, which sometimes can even be a disturbing experience. But there are a few works which the viewer can experience as a journey/process to just take away with them, and live with the reminiscence.




DSC_0047 copy

3. Did your time in Mumbai change your practice in a way? How so?

I had almost reached a stagnant point in my art practice after my Masters in 2016. This was my first residency and it gave a start to my practice, which I definitely needed at this stage. I think I became more resolved conceptually as to what line of thought my works draw on and how to follow it, while simultaneously playing and experimenting during the process. So in that way it gave a breathing space for my thoughts to shape and communicate distinctly.


4. If you could have all the resources available to you, what would be your dream project?

There are two projects which I’m longing to do whenever I can get an opportunity and resources. One is a game, for which I’ve already prepared a layout and just needs to be executed with the help of a game programmer, and money.

Another is a project with the ocean, where I want to leave messages in the ocean to communicate with strangers who will find them and respond back to me following the instructions in the message. This entails me to stay off shore for a considerable amount of time to leave many such messages. I think the second one is the most challenging, and thus excites me more.


Underground Bookhouse in transit at WAA

UBiT invite

From June till September 2017, Underground Bookhouse will be in transit at What About Art? The Bookhouse will serve as a community library and reading room, and a space for exhibitions, book-sales, screenings and workshops.

There is a clear gap in the information world. Most libraries and bookstores keep to the middle of the road. It is very hard to find any materials published outside the mainstream.

We need more independent bookspaces as a city, we have none.

We will be the ones to fix this.

In the age of tech, social media, and instant access to anything and everything, bookspaces help slow us down in a good way. You cannot recreate the feeling of holding a physical book in your hands and that’s why this space is important.

As a bookspace, we will specialize in handpicked used books featuring film, philosophy, graphic literature, zines and other independent publications, children’s books, new art and design magazines, and publications by small local presses, and other curios that we find in our continual search for distinctive books.

When you support an independent bookspace, no matter where you are, you are supporting learning, growth, diversity and inclusion.

– Himanshu & Aqui, Bombay Underground, founders of Underground Bookhouse and Dharavi Art Room

Facebook & Instagram: @bombayunderground @dharaviartroom

All money raised will go to keeping the Bookhouse and Dharavi Art Room running. 

Schedule of events: 

Poster-Zine making workshop

July 1

Time: 3 – 5pm

Fee: Rs 750, materials provided

Andy Warhol art workshop

July 15

Time: 4 – 6pm

Fee: Rs 750, materials provided

Andy Warhol documentary screening & discussion, in partnership with Alliance Francaise

July 15

6 – 7pm

Entry free

Book Sale

July 28, 29, 30

Time: 3 – 9pm

Entry free

Henri Matisse art workshop

August 12

Time: 4 – 6pm

Fee: Rs 750, materials provided

Henri Matisse documentary screening & discussion, in partnership with Alliance Francaise

August 12

Time: 6 – 7pm

Entry free

Zine Exhibition

September 1, 2, 3

Time: 3 – 9pm

Entry free

Final Book Sale & RWBC* closing showcase

September 15, 16, 17

Time: 3 – 9pm

Entry free

*Reading Women Book Club:

Reading  Women  Book  Club at Underground Bookhouse in Transit @ WAA is  designed to  bring together  readers to  showcase the  artistic quality and explore and celebrate the contributions of  women writers as well  as to  foster interests  and understanding  of the  accomplishments of women writers. At the end of each month, members will make their own zines as well.

The book club will meet on the 10th, 20th and 30th of each month.

To register for the workshops or the Book Club, please email

Bookhouse timings:

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
3pm – 6pm

Monthly membership tariffs:

Fee – Rs 500

Deposit – Rs 1000

Different Trains 1947


WAA are proud to announce our partnership in this brand new, ambitious project of Arts Council England‘s Reimagine India fund.

Marking 2017 as the 70th anniversary of Indian independence, artistic laboratory Metal – in partnership with Warp Records, Barbican Centre, and Boiler Room, plus Indian partners Wild City and What About Art? – will present Different Trains 1947.

Different Trains 1947 will be a collaboration between music artists ActressJack Barnett (These New Puritans), Indian music producer Sandunes, and filmmakers/artists Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard, who will perform a new audiovisual composition in response to the events of 1947.

Though the performances will comprise entirely new work, as a primary source of inspiration the composers have considered the conceptual and formal framework of  Different Trains (1988) by the genre-defining minimalist composer Steve Reich.

Archival film footage from the period will weave through the performances, along with audio interviews – collected in both India and the UK – from those who lived through this dynamic period of history, as a means of distilling the larger story of Indian independence.

This past February, WAA Residency had the pleasure of hosting and facilitating music artists Actress and Jack Barnett and the Boiler Room team on their initial field research trip to Mumbai. The artists met with various musicians, ranging from traditional schools of Indian classical music to more contemporary Indian music producers and experienced first hand the hustle and bustle of the city through the Mumbai Local (Mumbai’s railway system).

Different Trains 1947 will be premiered in Liverpool as an open air concert at Metal, Edge Hill railway station – the oldest active passenger railway station in the world – on 28th September 2017.

The piece will then be presented at Barbican Hall London (1st October 2017) and Magnetic Fields Festival, within the grounds of  a 17th Century palace on the edge of the desert in Rajasthan, India (December 2017), creating a truly epic international showcase for this new commission, with Boiler Room streaming one of the events as a live global broadcast.

Different Trains 1947 is a core project of Arts Council England‘s Reimagine India fund, with British Council as Digital Partner, plus additional support from Northern Rail and Film Hub North West Central  proud to be a member of the BFI Film Audience Network.

To feel a thread’s emotion

Moumita Das, recipient of this year’s Inlaks Fine Art Award was in residence at WAA for the month of April.

She writes, “I construct abstract forms, ‘fragments’, to highlight the beauty found in the inherent processes of ageing and decay. The core theme of my work is colour, texture and surface, strongly influenced by nature. I like to see it as nature, but always in a different way. Information and data collection are the first stage in my work process. And after that, through permutation & combination I try to put together all the information collected and convert it into a visual format through the use of Fibre art.”

Circles and ovals feature strongly in her work as it is a form that starts and finishes at the same point. From the cycle of the moon to the shape of the egg, these forms are in nature and all around us. IMG_8734

Using her drawings as a starting point, she then experiments with different fibres to construct large scale sculptural forms.

“For me fibre art symbolises what it feels like to feel the thread’s emotion, colour and texture. In my work sometimes, I used readymade materials like metal sheets and metal pipes, juxtaposing them with softer materials like, cotton fabric, wool and jute, in order to express soft and hard feelings of mine through my work.”



Using Mumbai as a muse, Moumita incorporated materials like fishing nets, fish hooks and wire to evoke the city’s sea-faring and harbour history.



Interacting with Hena Kapadia and members of Carpe Arte


Moumita with Fibre and Tapestry artist Monika Correa


Preksha and Moumita’s visit to CONA

Preksha Tater

Surat based artist, Preksha Tater, was an artist in residence with us for the month of April. During her time at WAA, she explored the notion of of space as both a physical and virtual concept through various disciplines like drawing, installation and sculpture.

She follows a process of trial and error in her art making, using materials in innovative and experimental ways. As she lived in her studio space, the lines between living and art making began to blur and as a result, so did her work. Inviting others to engage with her work was also an invitation into her living quarters, creating an intimate and almost private way to access art.




Preksha often uses cloth and methods of dyeing in her work. At the end of her residency, she created a site specific installation in her studio using fabric and natural dyes. The strips of fabric that lined the room and furniture was evocative of a womb-like cityscape that was evocative of her time in Mumbai.


Studio visit with Hena Kapadia


Visit by members of Carpe Arte

Outre-vie / Afterlife – How Many Seas


In March, WAA had the pleasure of producing and exhibiting FOCUS Photography Festival’s only public art show.

The exhibition, How Many Seas, consisted of eleven monumental photographs facing the seashore on Bandra’s Carter Road. These images, collected by individual artists in Korea, Greece, Quebec, Romania, Bosnia, Ontario, and Iceland, formed an open constellation that speaks to the ambiguity of memory. Using both English and Hindi captions, the text and images employed different modes of writing: from poetic reflection to transcribed conversations. Together they evoked a fragmentary, allegorical form of storytelling.

Supported by the Quebec Government, the large scale exhibition has been curated and conceptualised by Canadian contemporary artist, photographer and academic, Raymonde April.


This was April’s fifth visit to India and second public art exhibition in Mumbai.
April comments,The Afterlife project started right after my first residency in Mumbai, in 2012-2013, I wanted to give life to stories and images through a community, sharing a conversation about time, memory, space. I remember very clearly the first time I saw the Bandra seaside at sunset, how wide the ocean was, and how many living beings, people, animals, birds, populated its space, and how I could not decide to leave, being captivated by its multiple horizons. I could not dream of such an immense and beautiful site for showing our work.”


Afterlife or Outre-vie in French, is a research group created by April, together with ten artists and graduate students. It seeks to develop photographic and videographic practices that elucidate the ghostly afterlife of the images that comprise our present as much as our historical and artistic memory: Images do not (always) die away; they prolong the lives of foregone places and beings in their absence. The group takes name from the late Quebecois poet Marie Uguay, who writes: “Afterlife is when one is not yet in life, when one looks at it, when one seeks to enter it. One is not dead but already almost alive, almost born, being born perhaps, in this passage beyond borders and beyond time, which defines desire. Desire of the other, desire of the world […] Afterlife is like overseas or beyond the grave.” (1976).



On March 12th, along with April, we were joined by two other Afterlife members, Velibor Bozevic and Jinyoung Kim for the opening and walk-through of the exhibition. More than 70 people walked along with us, experiencing the magic and memory of the images juxtaposed with the iconic pink and saffron colours of Mumbai’s sunset on Carter Road. We later reconvened for drinks and a screening of Afterlife video works at the WAA project space.