Taste of India at Taste of India
In each part of the world, there are similarities, recurring names and iconography, which reflect regional cultures. The prevalence of the of Main Streets or Via Cavours or Mahatma Ghandi Boulevards in their respective cultures is a pleasant precursor to the fact that most cities are now outlined with strip malls featuring the same chain restaurants, service centers and shopping paradises. You can close your eyes entering a Statoil gas station in Sweden and still find your way to the café latté, the candy, and the groceries. The sameness is both disappointing and reassuring.
”Taste of India” by Aileen Blaney, Nihaal Faizal and Chinar Shah builds on the universality of the name ‘Taste of India.’ The exhibition is held in the restaurant Taste of India, housed in the Yelehanka bus stand, operated by chef Amod Kumar Bhutiani. Bhutiani started the restaurant in 2002 in the bus station, then moved to a more central shopping street in a second floor location, then nearby to a larger less central location, and now back to the bus stand. However, the clientele has followed the trail of stuffed parathas and fragrant northern curries, as well as the curated art exhibitions by students and faculty from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, all around the neighbourhood.
The photographic work in the exhibition was curated by the artists from found-on-the-internet photographs of the facades of diverse restaurants all named ‘Taste of India.’ A sound piece regularly calls out ”Taste of India” in a computer generated tone on a loop from an inexpensive orange speaker which blends in with the decor of Yelahanka’s Taste of India, yet seems contrary to the richness of the flavor we associate with Indian cuisine.
While the sound piece mimics the sound of food orders called from waiter to cook, the text work, a menu, lists the addresses of the restaurants from around the world found on the internet. Some are in highway malls, some with architectural details or colors that seem to refer to the Motherland. The choice of showing the photographs snapshot size is congruent with the anthropological aspect of the project and works well in the intimate proportions of the space. The smaller size minimizes the variation of quality in the downloaded photographs and shares conceptual and archival roots with such projects as Ed Ruscha’s ”26 Gas Stations.”
The Yelehanka Taste of India closed almost directly after the opening of the exhibition and shifted to a new location. First hung in a grid, the photographs are now presented in a continuous line as if we are driving around the world only opening our eyes every 100 miles as we pass another ‘Taste of India’ calling to us. Downloaded from the internet, ”Taste of India” thus calls to the public from around the world.
The restaurants differentiate from one city to the next as each embodies a personal version of the taste and the tastes. This exhibition gives us hope for diversity.
Taste of India is on view at Taste of India in Yelehanka, Bangalore, India until March 22, 2016.