Interview – Shivanjani Lal

Shivanjani Lal is a twice removed Fijian Indian Australian Artist and Curator. Her history is shaped by the Kala Pani [Black Waters]. She is from the indentured labor diaspora of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. She works across mediums to explore her dislocation that seeks to account for memory, erasure, healing, and the archive.


At what moment did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist or work in the arts?
I think I have always wanted to be an artist, but I never felt like I had the skills to make art. I guess it really started when I started taking photographs. I took a SLR beginner photography class. That felt like a good place to begin. As it was something I could access, a camera, and also it felt real which painting and sculpture didn’t. But I didn’t really start pursuing or thinking of art until I was in my mid 20’s and now 10 years later I think of my arts practice as work and that there are multiple avenues of how this generates art.
How has your practice evolved over the years and what has been a constant source of inspiration for you?
I guess my practice has evolved in its idea of what art is and how I make it. I am quite interested in the idea of agility and what this looks like to me right now consists of select images from my families archive, brown paper, red thread and my camera. Something which centers me; is my relationship with the women in family, particularly my grandmothers and the lives they lead and how this is a lens to review history and unmake the silences of histories.
Do you think the residency at WAA has benefited or helped your practice? If so how?
Absolutely, I was able to begin thinking more materially about my practice, to have the space and time explore brown paper and red thread in a way that makes sense to me know after living in and out of India for the last year. Also time it write and just sit with materials to listen to them and see what can happen. But also to allow others into this space and work and share this space with people who you want to support.
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What is the essence of your art? 
I think the essence of my practice is generosity. What does this work mean to me, but what does this mean also to my community and how it’s not just about outcomes such as an artwork but rather how does my work also build a community I want to see visible in the arts.
What is it that you are working on currently and what projects are in the pipeline?
I have 2 solo exhibitions coming up, one in New Zealand at a gallery called Meanwhile in Wellington and Airspace in Sydney, As well as a group show in Sydney in a new space in called Cement Fondu. Right now I am working towards an outcome for my HH Artspaces Open on the 26th of April.
Where do you feel your strength lies in as an artist?
Patience, generosity, always being open and faking it even when I feel like I don’t deserve it.
What would be your dream project? 
Two dream projects would be to make a 9 channel video that I have been dreaming of since I moved to India 18 months ago. Also to have a group exhibition with the other Fijian Indian artists both in India, Fiji and Australia.

Call for applications – Monsoon Residencies 2018

WAA Residency Mumbai invites applications for residencies from July to October 2018.

Deadline: April 20, 2018

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Duration: 1 month to 4 months

Eligibility: Artists and curators working in all disciplines are encouraged to apply.

Costs / Support: This is a paid residency. Artists are provided studio and accommodation at a nominal fee. Artists are responsible for all costs of travel, visa, insurance and food.

Program Description:

Artists, curators, writers and researchers working in various visual arts mediums are encouraged to apply with a project proposal for the residency.

What About Art? international artists residency was launched in 2013 with the aim to facilitate and support art practice. One of the few art residencies in Mumbai, India, the residency provides individual studio space, accommodation, professional networking opportunities and an intellectually stimulating environment for dialogue on visual arts practices for artists and curators. In addition, the residency organises artist talks and open studios.

6 spacious studios are situated in the heart of Mumbai in Bandra, a vibrant neighbourhood, not far from the art district where galleries, museums and art spaces are located. The studios are located in a quiet lane above the WAA office and are close to the building where accommodation is provided.

– Administration and preparatory research
– Orientation to the city
– 6 studios (20-25 sq mt each) available 24 hours, Internet, shared kitchen
– Accommodation (2 bedrooms) in a flat 5 mins from the studio
– Basic support for production and technical assistance
– Networking opportunities with the art community
– Open studio and artist talk at WAA Project Space

For application to the residency please send the following documents by email to or by post.

1) CV
2) Short description of the project
3) Portfolio with 20 images in case of artist; written material in case of curator/researcher

Please write to for more details.

Young Graduate Summer Residency

We’re excited to be launching our Young Graduate Summer Residency Open Call for 2018!

WAA is offering young graduates a fully sponsored studio space for a month for either May or June 2018.

To apply, please submit the following documents by email to

  1. CV
  2. Statement about your work & interest
  3. 10-20 images of your work

    Please write ‘Summer Residency’ in the subject line.
    Deadline: 31st March 2018

    Summer residency 2018

WAA Open Studio 2018

For the second consecutive year, WAA is taking part in Mumbai Gallery Weekend’s collateral program with its annual Open Studio. This year, the Open Studio will feature practices that all have an element of interaction that invite audiences to engage with the artwork and challenge the dynamic of looking at art and the role of the viewer. The Open Studios are an opportunity for art enthusiasts to interact with and see the works of WAA’s artists in residence. The aim is to encourage dialogue and a deeper understanding of the artists’ processes of making.

The artists taking part this year are: Inlaks awardee, Sanket Jadia; CALQ 2017 recipients, Pat Dionne and Miki Gringas; Gayatri Kodikal; Afrah Shafiq; Ruchi Bakshi Sharma and curator, Gitanjali Dang.

Sanket Jadia
A multidisciplinary experimentation with both medium and form is integral to the nature of Sanket’s artistic practice. Each work is conceived in the form of an inquiry, with a conscious attempt to intervene in the existing modes of meaning production. His artistic practice relies on the inherent creative possibilities that art facilities; he has evolved particular strategies of intervention through which he pose questions that have no immediate conclusions, but open out multiple and layered possibilities of contemplation.

Residual Gaze , Sanket JadiaPat Dionne & Miki Gingras
Pat & Miki create photographic works that inspire and testify to the relationship of the individual with his environment. In all their projects, the artists integrate the participation of the subject, which manifests itself in various ways such as staging, testimonies or taking pictures. The process becomes an exchange, giving the subject the opportunity to speak, with their testimonies becoming the inspiration. The resulting photographic compositions are intended as poetic and playful allegories, presented in the form of narrative tableaux composed of reality and fiction.

Namaste, documentation of process, Milan Samvaad, Pat & Miki

Gayatri Kodikal
Gayatri Kodikal is based in India; her work in experimental films, games and sound engages with research material as an extension of her practice across mediums . She is an alumni of NID Ahmedabad, where she started experiments with narrative and technology. Currently she is working on the board game TTH:SPUMM, The Travelling Hand: Smelling Palimpsests Under Moonlit Mangroves.
The game has been supported by the Arts Practice grant from India Foundation for the Arts, underwritten by Tata Steel. Previously, she was part of the first edition of the Game Residency at Khoj International Artists Association, where she developed the video game prototype TTH:ALDAS,The Travelling Hand: A Ludic Dream Across the Sea. Here, the dreaming self and waking self work together to reveal and open up trails in an open game world.


Afrah Shafiq
Afrah Shafiq lives and works in the world of documentary film and visual art sometimes as artist, editor, writer, and designer and at other times as manager, producer and facilitator. She has a special interest in animation, multimedia, remix, folklore and dreams. When she is not glued to a computer, she makes glass mosaics.

Prologue, screen shot frmo Sultana's Reality, Afrah Shafiq

Ruchi Bakshi Sharma
Ruchi Bakshi Sharma studied Communication Design at the National Institute of Design and has directed several award winning live action and stop-motion shorts. She works with multiple mediums – Lenticulars, paper assemblages inside shadow boxes, video, optical and animating toys, kaleidoscopes out of recycled materials, jointed paper puppets for beginning story tellers, illustrated puzzles and handmade zines in collaboration with young kids. Play and motion are dominant elements in her work.

stitched cabinetman

Gitanjali Dang
Gitanjali Dang is a curator, writer and shape-shifter. In 2012, she founded Khanabadosh, an itinerant arts lab. Khanabadosh lives off latitude, magic and agnosticism, and is interested in everything. It is particularly interested in constantly rethinking what it—and everything around it—is about. In 2015, Khanabadosh, in collaboration with Institute for Contemporary Art Research (IFCAR), Zurich University of the Arts, cofounded Draft, which explores contemporary art that produces, contributes to or provokes public debate. Gitanjali lives and loves in Mumbai and wherever else this living, and loving might take her.

Our current programs are supported by ArtC, Québec in IndiaConseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Inlaks Shivadasani Foundation, India Foundation for the ArtsWhistling Woods InternationalBhavishyavani Future SoundzPro Helvetia New Delhi – Swiss Arts Council.

Altered Memories

In November, WAA welcomed Goan artist Diptej Vernekar, an Inlaks Fine Arts awardee.
His work involves the alteration of memory and fragments and deals with the perception of meanings, space and conclusions which are ambiguous in nature.
The idea of alteration comes from the daily negotiation of people according to their own setup and the daily transformation of spaces and objects within these lived spaces. These environments  hold certain memories of human negotiation from which Diptej  develops into metaphorical meanings, forming a conceptual mould to his practice that sometimes translates poetically, forming mystical drawings or sculptural works and sometimes video.

Taking inspiration from his surroundings in the studio, the residency apartment and the little lanes of Bandra, Diptej developed an intricate body of work using charcoal drawings and video projection.

His charcoal drawings are of the everyday objects found in these surroundings which he then zoomed into, creating large scale detailed images that at first glance, resembled landscapes of other worlds. Upon closer inspection, one realises that they are merely looking at one fragment of objects that we would otherwise ignore. Using video to project his films over his drawings, Diptej juxtaposes the outside worlds of his films over the minute detail of the banal objects.




Diptej held an open studio with members of Carpe Arte who came to interact with him and his practice.




Photos taken by Laura Bellucci.

Monsoon Artists in Residence

Over the monsoon months this year, WAA had three young Indian artists take up residency:

Formerly trained in painting, Starlyn D’Souza has experimented with assemblage using organic detritus found along the coastlines of India along with fragments collected during the act of eating to form unique and unfamiliar creatures.
Starlyn also works with intricate drawings and ink spills that revolve around the idea of growth and decay as physical transformation and as the possibility of new life.




Radhika Wader’s work is a visual documentation of Confusion, Curiosities, Questions, Introspection, Solutions about the universe. Why it is as it is? and why we exist at all?
Radhika‘s aim as an artist is to primarily be an inventor of innovative forms-where she is always in search of new routes to express feelings and ideas that reside in all of us. Her process of working is instinctual where she starts drawing with various materials like ink , coal tar mixed with pigments and organic deposits on random sizes and surfaces. The process ends with Patina treatment and with application of Gold and Silver which constantly keeps her rooted with the existential past.
“All works hold a memory which is different and always growing. Sometimes though the works tells me nothing for a long time, but then suddenly one day it tells me something magical.” says Radhika. 

Meghna Patpatia trained in Painting at Sir. J.J School of Art. Her practice currently involves exploring the concept of changing landscapes with linear ink drawings and mixed mediums. Through detailed drawings and layers with references to traditional art historical practices, she creates an atmosphere within her works that reflect her observations. Her interest lies in visually understanding a change in habitat, landscape and the contrast in our existence with other beings on earth. The drawings are visual explorations of the natural realm and man-made establishment coexisting with one another. The conscious observe the artificial and the growth patterns that emerge from the two synergizing. Natural life forms witness the evolution of landscape and the change in their surroundings every day which they adjust to whether they like it or not. The linear forms she explores are creatures/living beings that have a luminescent fragility and the strong mechanical harshness of material that is man-made. Exploring the contradiction of both is what she is attempting to discover in her work.




Their residencies culminated in a open studio which saw artists, art enthusiasts, gallerists and other practitioners attend.


You Can’t Step Into The Same River Twice

In July, we were joined by photographer Hari Katragadda for a two month residency where he continued to explore his project titled ‘You can’t step into the same river twice’ It consists of cyanotype prints made with light impression and mark-making, using site-specific materials along the river in Varanasi and Kanpur. The resulting photographs that bear burns, tears, creases are not mere images, but become an abstract facsimile of the contaminated sites. They reflect the erasures and eruptions that affect the relationship between the river, the landscape and its inhabitants.

Hari also participated in an open studio where he showcased his work to artists, art enthusiasts and other members of the art community.



Hari was recently chosen as part of Fòcas India-Scotland 2017 programme where the project ‘You Can’t Step Into The Same River Twice’, will tour Scotland and India in the coming year along with 9 other photographer’s works. You can read his interview here:


Jeff Gillette

Californian artist, Jeff Gillette joined us in July for a month long residency where he worked on a significant public art project in Mumbai in collaboration with artist Samir Parker who  created “Tarp Project” and is presently conducting other city-wide projects.

In his studio, Jeff  continued creating drawings, paintings and sculptures that deal with impromptu architecture and scenes of blight (i.e.: slums, landfills).





Jeff also conducted public activities and interactions in the city with the children of Dharavi and treated them to a day of arts and crafts called Kid’s Day at Mickey House.

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.

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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.




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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