Omicron sculpture: From ‘demolition’ to permanent home

Written by By, S tariq Ali, CNN

If there was any doubt that 2019 could be a turning point for the Indian subcontinent and the world, here’s proof: “Omicron,” a sculpture created by Nasreen Mohamedi in Mumbai, India, and recorded at the Manchester Institute of Contemporary Art, has been deemed “important and must see.”

The Omicron of Mumbai sculpture — named after the Omicron figure in Greek mythology, which the artist put to work over 4,000 years ago in construction of the world’s greatest temple — can be viewed in London’s Nottingham Contemporary, and has been hailed by curators as “one of the most important conceptual works” of 2018.

Though Omicron was originally commissioned for the 4th Delhi Biennale in 2012, the sculpture quickly became an icon of the city’s “demolition culture” with certain buildings deemed unfit to be passed into the public domain.

In 2014, the artist created it for the Pink City Festival in the Swami Vivekananda park at Dadar West, in western Mumbai. Now there are plans to secure it as a permanent fixture on Bhaag Jawadwala Lane for two decades.

Omicron of Mumbai — which costs over 1 million rupees ($15,000) to create each time — is no straight reconstruction, as its transparent steel structure appears to be formed of torn-up blocks and jointed pieces of earthenware ware, reflecting the local vandalism of the last decade.

The Indian pavilion at the 63rd Venice Biennale last year. Credit: Manuela Milanelli/Nils Jorgensen/Contemporary Art

“We have Indian artist who doesn’t believe in needing permission to create,” exhibition curator Sunaina Upadhyay told BBC.

“But it’s important to me to find a reaction to the authority of the installation that helps interrogate the multiplicity of reality and the Indian public.”

Prior to the biennale, Upadhyay put artists in contact with a local builder to communicate feedback about his creation. This was then reflected back into the design.

There was much further investigation involved in the process: Omicron of Mumbai is extended by a barbed wire fence, which is the entrance to several offices, cafes and food stalls; a road, and a street lamp that is perched on the original work’s surface.

The installation was originally commissioned for the 2012 Delhi Biennale. Credit: Ashifa Kassam/CNN

Since it was installed in December, and available to browse at Nottingham Contemporary until early May, “Omicron of Mumbai” has been met with a strong range of reactions from its audience, who have reveled in the post-plight of the piece.

As well as the artistic cocktail among its viewers, the version at the exhibition contains the likes of Jonathan Adler, Rimmel and Diageo. Don’t miss it.

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