Indo Inquisition

13 weeks in India



Jul '12 - Jan '13

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    Chand's Rock Garden

    By amlocke
    Aug 21, '12 12:13 AM EST

    If, for whatever reason, an artist wishes to build a gallery to host his work, he should look first to the Rock Garden of Chandigarh. This three-phase collection by Nek Chand, a former road inspector, is a totalitarian labyrinth of sculptures and masonry work, complete with waterfalls, caves, and recycled figurines. Upon first glance, one would be astute to denote the commonalities between our friend Chand and the great Antoni Gaudi. However, his work is in Chandigarh, and thus holds slight biases towards Le Corbusier's construction techniques.

    The three phases are quite distinct in scale and character. The first phase can be described as if Gaudi arranged a Christmas scene on the lawns of a tiny urban village. Abstract figurines, stacked pottery, and walls made of mechanical parts are displayed along a singular, winding pathway.

    The transition to phase two is somewhat subtle until one emerges from a dark cavern into a neatly tiled amphitheater. Waterfalls, concrete trees, and distant bridges catch one’s eye and draw the visitor further along the path. It is here, within phase two where Chand creates the most anticipation and excitement. He does so by showing several glimpses of things to come. He places pathways carved out of stonewall within arms reach of your highest jump, but inaccessible by any visual means. One must continue in the opposite direction before stumbling upon a view strangely familiar as the one to which you were seeking earlier.

    The third phase begins quite similarly to phase two, but ends as the most urban and grand of the group. Here, Chand relies almost entirely on using burlap bags as formwork for his concrete walls and columns. Its crux lies at the end of the pathway with a winding line of archways 25 feet in height. Each archway dangles two chains attached to a wooden board wide enough for two regular sized Indian buttocks or one regular sized American buttock to occupy. These swings are always occupied and create a rhythm of movement and excitement, which radiates throughout the space while distinguishing between the promenade on the outside and the courtyard-like space on the interior. 

    The majority of phase one is made up of recycled materials

    Phase two showcases Chand's stonework- creating anticipation

    Phase three is the most urban and grand of all the phases

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About this Blog

An Indo Inquisition is a thirteen-week train expedition across India. The journey will document the influences of international modernism and British occupation, as well as compare the effects of wealth accumulation, culture, religion, and poverty with economic growth and their effect on the built environment.

Authored by:

  • amlocke

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