Urban Culture and HipHop

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The following two weeks will feature two important gigs of urban culture in Mumbai and Bangalore. The Alliance Française de Bombay is taking part in the organization of Urban Culture Project with the graffiti artist Rock, whereas the Alliance Française de Bangalore is organizing a workshop with the hip hop dancer Miguel Nosibor. It is the occasion of the return of  urban culture in Mumbai.

Urban Culture in Mumbai
Have you ever noticed, while strolling on Juhu beach on a Sunday, a bunch of wild kids doing reverse saltos, rounds on the head or breaking suddenly into a moon-dance?

Urban Culture Project

...Rock @ Chapel road 2011

They are amongst Mumbais’ leading break dancers. They perform once in a while. At home, in Dharavi lanes, or perhaps even at the Blue Frog when cultural centers or projects such as the Dharavi rock project invite them  for hip-hop programs. Some of these children and teenagers have at times followed informal classes given by desi American and French break-dancers. A group of them even formed a B-boying crew in 2007, called Underdogs Kombats, perhaps in reference to Slumdog Millionnaire. At present there are also privileged children from suburban Mumbai taking hip-hop classes with dancer Priya Rodrigues, a Bandra based break-dancer or attending those of Terence Lewis. However, according to the true spirit of hip-hop and urban culture, break dancing is found at its best in the streets. Even if they are smelly, filthy and noisy, like  Dharavi. “Urban culture has to start in the street but you can take it out too” says Ivan Germon (aka Rock), graffiti artist from France. Indeed, many graffiti artist, essential figures of urban culture, have become popular artists too. Think of JR, French anonymous photographer whose work has been shown in Mumbai with AFB, Bansky, a celebrity now, or even Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the first graffiti artists to reach stardom in contemporary art. However, in Mumbai, graffiti are somehow more modest.

The Wall Project, started between 2007 and 2008 was a first attempt to bring out creativity amongst neighbors and youth of the same area. It all started with resident of Bazaar Road, Bandra West, Dhanya Pilo. Little by little, artist friends, local children and even house owners joined in various paintings events. The project showed that urban culture does not have to be necessarily provocative or rebellious. In France, graffiti are associated with counter-culture and defying the authority. In Mumbai, it was perceived as a gesture of embellishment and good will, as long as none of the paintings or graffiti were defaming against religions or politics. With time, the Wall Project grew much bigger with international artist participating in the process. Today, Chapel Road, where it all started, carries various marks of Norwegian, German, Sweden, French or Brazilian graffiti artists, recovered by a layer of paint every now and then….Rock @ Chapel road 2011

These artists often come to India fascinated by the dying urban culture, especially that of painting. Ivan Germon along with many other artists have gone to lengths to meet and discuss with  the last Bollywood painters in the city, an art that is fading because of the lack of recognition and arrival of modern means. Local artists are also not behind in paying a tribute to this dying art. Author and renowned photographer David D’Souza has even published a book Itinerants, Mumbai’s Nomads on Mumbai street performers. At the former Matthieu Foss gallery in 2011, photographer and painter Vidisha Saini has particularly worked on this ancient form of amusement . Urban culture is not a particularity of the West. With the growth of Indian cities, the need for various forms of entertainments, inside or outside the establishment, persist and develop. The problem is to recognize them and eventually, nurture them.

Urban Culture Project in Mumbai : May 2012 
Artistic exchange is the key for the development of Urban Arts. To support artistic creativity, the Alliance Française de Bombay, the German Consulate, Consulate of the Netherlands, Rikskonsertene (Norwegian organization) and Soundcurry, associated with Blue Frog, has organized the Urban Culture Project. It will start from May 9th and last till May 12th to celebrate urban culture in India by involving european and indian artists in the same project. Graffiti, breakdance, beat box and rap will have their representants during this special week. The Alliance Française de Bombay has invited the french artist Ivan Germon, Rock to join this project. From 9th to 11th May, breakdance, beat box and graffiti workshops will be held for under privileged children and young talents. They will be run by Indian and European artists in Andheri, Mahim, Bandra and Worli. They are open to all on registration.
To wrap up this eventful week, Indian and European hip hop artists will perform together at Blue Frog during a big all-night performance on Saturday the 12th! Many artists will perform on this special night : Pekor, Droolian, Bombay Bassment, DJ Uri, Roc Fresh Crew…

In Bangalore
Dancer and choreographer Miguel Nosibor from Marseille, belongs to the first generation of French hip hop performers. He has been performing since the early ‘80’s and will be touring India to perform his latest piece, titled Temps d’arrêt – in which he explores his identity and memories through movement.
He will conduct a dance workshop in Bangalore on 4th May and will perform on 5th May, at the Alliance Française de Bangalore –  auditorium.

For more information contact Blue Frog or visit Alliance Française de Bombay‘s website.
For Bangalore : Hiphop workshop by M. Nosibor

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Directeur de publication : Délégation Générale de la Fondation Alliance Française en Inde et au Népal

Rédacteur en chef : Laurent Elisio Bordier

Rédacteur/Coordinateur national : Siddharth Bhatt

Rédacteurs, contributeurs : Guillaume, Abhirami, Alexandre, Chintan, Cléa, David, Eleonore, Elie, Kanika, Karine, Nita, Thomas, Malvika, Marie-Joëlle, Meera, Mayuri, Mitushi, Alice, Prutha, Romain, Ritika, Manas, Supriya ...