Revealing the complex layers and stark contrasts of Delhi, Indian artist Gigi Scaria’s site-specific installation City Unclaimed combines a large photo-based mural of an imaginary cityscape with a working fountain that stands as both a monument to a glorious past and also a reminder of bubbling societal tension.
Covering the central wall of the Smart Museum’s reception hall, the immersive mural is manipulated and stitched together from photographs Scaria has taken around his home city of Delhi. The collage of images shows the extreme differences and layers of social and economic class that are characteristic of the city, which Scaria says “grows and decays by its own logic.” In front of the mural stands a twelve-foot high fountain that mirrors the architecture and images behind it. The five tiers of the fountain resemble Delhi apartment buildings with windows and balconies, and the flowing water raises issues about scarcity, abundance, and the allocation of resources in urban spaces.
City Unclaimed is the artist’s first project for a U.S. museum.