Cult Of the street. Open shop barbershop.
Part 2 of Cult of the street:
Barbers shops speak of beautification of the body, sexuality, male power, and vanity depicted through the curiosity as an on-looker/passer by, to something that is considered to be otherwise private. This is where i began exploring the rich traditions of the Naayi /Hajaam’s of Mumbai city.
My exploration led to representations of what I saw, in a mix of different mediums.Through photographs, drawings, video and sound installation.
Tools of the Trade. from Niyati Upadhya on Vimeo.
In the arsenal of your average Naayi: Blade clippers, trimmers, shears, razors for styling, straight razors, clipper combs: for all-purpose cutting and tapering, for free-hand clipper and clipper-over-comb work, to create outlines and trim beards; to cut, layer, thin, blend, shave. Brushes – round, paddle, vent, combs, oil, gels, foams, mousses, spray bottles, curling irons, blow driers…The stories of the barber are sometimes poetic, sometimes dark, and always poignant.
The Cult of the Street is a series of visual diaries that documents the ‘professional underbelly’ of the Indian city. It is an essay in mixed media, exploring the Naayi and the Had-vaid through photograph, drawing, video, sculpture and sound. The stories of the bone setter and the barber are sometimes poetic, sometimes dark, and always poignant.
Poster Design By Mana Dhanraj.
It almost seems impossible until its done!
On July 6th, 2012, the doors to my first show opened at False Ceiling — a quaint gallery in Bandra, Mumbai. Lots of friends and family and art enthusiasts strolled in that evening, and I watched expressions and reactions to the story that I had laid out before them.
The series I was presenting: Cult of the Street started out as a self initiated photo essay, looking out for quirky old livelihoods, perennially teetering on the edge of extinction in the city of Bombay. And the bonesetter is one such profession.
Much like the minimality that characterises bones themselves, bone setters are creatures that belong to the space between the past and the present, of disrepute and grudging respect and, ever so slightly, between science and magic.
With this body of work, I’ve used various mediums to translate my story of the bone setters. And what started as a photoessay one year ago slowly transformed into a multi-disciplinary body of work, documenting the spaces in which the bone setters practice, looking at the anatomy as a form that holds the body together, and translating it into various mediums.
This experience has been one of new beginnings and discovery. It has been an overwhelming experiencing, of telling stories through my pictures, drawings and an installation.
Thank you to all the people who had to bare with my madness, and who were a part of making this dream a plan. Special Thanks to Kamayani Sharma, who very skillfully translated my visuals into words.
6th July 2012.