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Radical Housing and Socially-Engaged Art

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Niyati Upadhya

First at Khoj
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Niyati’s work uses a wall of her studio space (almost as if it were a page) to depict her encounters with/in Khirki Village and Shadipur Depot. She looks at matchboxes and the (banal, kitschy) images printed on them as evocative cultural symbols, and incorporates some that she found during her work here into the piece. Apart from which, her photographic documentation of the residents/people of Khirki and Shadipur and their occupations plays a key role in her work. She uses these photographs and drawings to illustrate her experience of observing their lives and work.
Niyati Upadhya graduated with a degree in visual arts from Rachana Sansad, Mumbai. Since her graduation, she has spent close to two years travelling and working on a variety of projects (both individual and for clients) that have evolved out of her practice at art school. Having grown up in a home of artists, musicians and other inclined to creative pursuits, a keen sense of observation and curiosity has become second nature, and her most recent preoccupation has been with documenting the ‘professional underbelly’ of the typical Indian city – whether it’s the scrap dealers of Bangalore or the kaan saaf wallahs, ear cleaners, of Bombay. Her curiosity about capturing the murk and quirks of dubious old vocations that lie at the fringes of cities like Mumbai, addressing odd bodily needs, quietly but firmly, finally led her to explore the lives of The Bone Setters and then The Barbers, which forms the main subjects of her current body of work.