London's Regent Park is currently an art lover's delight. Thanks to the ongoing annual cultural event, Frieze Sculpture, the lawns are dotted with installations of varying sizes. There's a giant Penguin by John Baldessari, a holiday home by Richard Woods, and then there's a 4.8m tall shamanistic sculpture by Bharti Kher.
Named The Intermediaries, Kher's piece features three human-ish figures. "They're a mother, father, child — a family. Essentially, they're kind of djinns, they're the in-betweeners," says Kher over a phone call from London, on a day her schedule is chock-a-block with meetings.
Image courtesy: Stephen White/Frieze
The noted artist has been working on a series of sculptures for The Intermediaries since a couple of years now. She started with smaller figures (clay and resin models) during a residency with Hauser & Wirth. "I thought it would be nice to scale up. The height was based on the height of my studio at the time," she says.
The Intermediaries has been created especially for Frieze, and Kher felt it was apt for a city like London in the present political scenario. The artist was born in London and now increasingly divides her time between London and New Delhi (where she's based with artist Subodh Gupta). "London is one of the most cosmopolitan cities. It's full of people not from London. I like the dynamics of different cultures, people and places, that's what makes a city exciting. The work could be apt in New Delhi as well as it's is full of people not actually from New Delhi," she says.
Kher believes that making art is a political act, but adds that her works are not responses always to singular political scenarios. "You watch the news for that. Bear with the work in slow time. It’s a long gestation," she says.
As a free-for-all event in a public space, Frieze Sculpture makes art accessible to everyone - especially those who may ordinarily find art galleries intimidating. In India, public art installations are few and far in between and Kher believes we need to think hard about what we want for our cities. "[The scene] right now is the lowest on a graph that I have ever experienced. Culture, sports, and in fact, all things good seem to be suffocating either in the toxicity of the air or the politics of present day India. We need independent councils to implement change and nothing short of a revolution to change the apathy of the government. Nothing good can happen if we remain so conservative, patriarchal, parochial and bureaucratic. However, in spite of all of this there are pockets of joy and inspiration that flourish."
Frieze Sculpture is ongoing at Regent’s Park, London, till October 7.