India’s pop-up exhibition wins international award

Bonjour India pavilion is an ode to Indo-French friendship


May 4, 2019

/ By / Kolkata

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The Bonjour India experience celebrated the friendship between India and France (Courtesy: arch2o)

The ‘Bonjour India Experience’ was the flagship initiative of the Bonjour India 2017-18, a festival to celebrate the friendship between India and France through more than 300 events spread over four months across 33 Indian cities.

The Bonjour India Pavilion (2017-18) was awarded the first place in the Art and Culture category at the ninth edition of Archmarathon Awards 2019 in Milan. It is one of the most important construction and architecture event in Italy centred on the need to unblock building sites and relaunch the construction sector to boost economy.

The Bonjour India experience, a one-of-its-kind travelling exhibition, celebrated the friendship between India and France through handcrafted pavilion. The pavilion structure, researched and curated by Delhi-based architecture firm SpaceMatters and Institut Francaise en Inde, travelled to three cities in India as part of the Bonjour India Festival. It was launched at India Gate in New Delhi, and then moved to Cross Maidan Garden in Mumbai and Salt Lake Central Park in Kolkata, aptly reinforcing the jury comment of the pavilion showing “a strong capacity of being nomadic.” The exhibition celebrated Indo-French collaboration by combining art, architecture, expensive design and urbanism.

For the third edition of the pavilion design the festival included exhibits around art, architecture, food, literature, travel and design. The project partners and cofounders of SpaceMatters, Amritha Ballal and Suditya Sinha, had to shrink this entire museum-worthy information into 800 square metres.  The pop-up structure has had over 50 collaborators including Corbusier Foundation, Musée Yves Saint Laurent and Tata Central Archives.

During the launch of the exhibition in New Delhi, Dr Bertrand de Hartingh, director of French Institut in India (IFI- the cultural wing of French Embassy) had shared with MIG, “Bonjour India is not just a cultural festival anymore. It is about engaging and sharing on a  large scale in various fields. As Prime Minister Modi and President Macron mentioned earlier, we are looking at something more than a partnership between India and France, it is the Indo-French friendship for the world. Because together, we could create a lot of things that the world needs- in domains of food, water management, renewable energy, IT, education, schools, etc.”

Moulshri Joshi, cofounder at SpaceMatters told an Indian media, “The pavilion celebrates a culture of mobility; it moves art from its gated sites onto a public landscape. It needed to have the gravitas of a traditional museum and yet a lightness of being that could be packed into a truck. The space had to communicate stability of a climate-controlled sealed environment carrying things of value inside and yet not give the impression of being temporary, which in India is mostly associated with being flimsy or non-serious.”

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