AI11_21_2018_3_45_23_PM_Mumbai_suburbia_main_image_NEW.jpg
AI11_21_2018_3_45_23_PM_Mumbai_suburbia_main_image_NEW.jpg
News 21 Nov 2018

The photo exhibition Mumbai Suburbia: Urban Environment in Crisis by Peter Bialobrzeski, is better left undescribed

The Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai presents Mumbai Suburbia: Urban Environment in Crisis, an exhibition of pictures by Peter Bialobrzeski. The work opens up the conversations about city management and planning, and drives home the dystopic nature of living in a city like Mumbai.

It’s ironic that while a picture can speak a thousand words, we choose to write about it. Ironic is also the intent of our headline. But here goes…

It comes to a close on 22 November 2018. A unique photography exhibition that’s been on display in Mumbai over the past 2 months. It’s called Mumbai Suburbia: Urban Environment in Crisis and it consists of a collection of powerful images: stunning, heartbreaking snapshots of a Mumbai that seems to be imploding. These are all works of the German documentary photographer Peter Bialobrzeski, made between October and December 2017 during a residency initiated by Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai.

Based on the backdrop of the statistic that every day 500 new families relocate to Mumbai, in search of a better life, the pictures emphasize how, in fact, these families are absorbed into slums, seldom finding the life they came searching for in the first place.

On display at The Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan at Kalaghoda, in south Mumbai, the works draw the viewers into the spiral of urban relocation and the urban poor.  There is no romanticism to it. Based on the backdrop of the statistic that every day 500 new families relocate to Mumbai, in search of a better life, the pictures emphasize how, in fact, these families are absorbed into slums, seldom finding the life they came searching for in the first place. 

And yet the megapolis of Mumbai absorbs and almost consumes all these people, keeping then trapped in its web, even as it seems to be struggling to stay alive. The images show squalor, density, and brightly-lit streets/roads, shops, billboards, high-rise commercial buildings, capturing the fractured facade that Mumbai tries hard to maintain. 

The work opens up the conversations about city management and planning and drives home the dystopic nature of living in a city like Mumbai.

In Peter’s work, Mumbai’s enormity is pronounced, so is its deplorable human condition, and the fragile lives of the urban poor, while the urban rich build disproportionately taller high-rises driving the socio-economic wedge of disparity even deeper. 

The work opens up the conversations about city management and planning and drives home the dystopic nature of living in a city like Mumbai. The Mumbai images from this exhibition add to this existing corpus of urban photographic work by Bialobrzeski, and will eventually be published as a book. The exhibition runs from 6 Oct to 22 Nov 2018 at Gallery MMB, the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai’s exhibition space, located on the ground floor of the Institute in Kalaghoda. Do catch it while you can. If you are an immigrant Mumbaikar like me, staying here to fulfill dreams of a prosperous future, chances are you might question what it is that really keeps you in the city.

If you haven’t caught it yet, make the time and visit Gallery MMB.