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November 17, 2017

Faizan Khatri Is Making Heads Turn With His Installation At Sassoon Dock

Text by Saumya Sinha

The artist’s installation is a metaphor for the mess mankind creates for the environment and himself

As a child,  Faizan Khatri would scribble on everything from math notebooks to exam question papers and buy used comic books from scrap dealers that would almost always have missing pages. He would happily complete the stories with imaginary endings, drawing them out with as much gusto as if he were the co-creator of those books. Rendering the characters on paper gave way to conjuring some of his own protagonists and he eventually got hooked on to the idea of designing — something that hasn’t quite settled down yet.

We talk to him about his installation — The Pissing Dog — that is part of St+art India Mumbai Festival’s showcase at Sassoon Dock.

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What is the idea behind your installation for St+Art Mumbai festival?
This particular installation seeks to engage the amused viewer and to make him wonder, “Did I just laugh at the dog, or have I been laughing at myself all along?” The installations can be spotted in different areas of the venue like untouched spaces, dusty corners and behind things. It is an analogy of the same spatial conditions that occur in our day-to-day life and begs the questions “Can you look away? Can you smell it? Can you be uncomfortable? Are you comfortable being uncomfortable?”

Tell us about the rendering process…
The installation had to be extremely durable considering it was placed outside the venue for a good few weeks. Being an architect and having worked with metal, I was geared up to take this on. There was a ton of sketching, trailing dogs in order to document the positions in which they urinate and failed prototypes; in fact, we even ended up creating dogs which looked more like elephants and polar bears. I’d like to thank Ashok, Jitu, and especially Johnson from Arthat Collective who relentlessly helped shape the skeleton, along with volunteers from St+art India Foundation. I’ve tried my hand at welding, wire-binding and metal-wrapping, sustaining umpteen cuts and bruises in the process.

What do you wish to accomplish through your art?
I believe art, design and creation are best when they rouse the need for action for the betterment of those in need. If my art can achieve that, I’d consider its purpose fulfilled. I constantly fantasize about a utopian world for humans and animals alike. In recent times, it seems like mankind has embarked on an unending rampage of creating filth in various forms, ranging from our immediate environment all the way down to our own lives. My installation provokes this simple thought — are we pissing on our ‘collective urban’ — a beautiful world inherited equally by all of us?

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