Megacities Asia

Breathing Flower, by Choi Jeong Hwa.

Over the last 50 years there has been an astonishing increase in ‘megacities’ — cities with populations over 10 million people — half of which are in Asia. A current exhibition at the MFA (on view through July 17), explores the work of eleven artists from these immense cities. The pieces are mainly large installations or immersive sculptures that demand attention, with some in particular evoking the experience of megacity-living.

8’x12,’ by Hema Upadhyay

My favorite piece in the exhibition is 8’x12,’ by the Mumbai artist Hema Upadhyay, who was murdered last year at the age of 43. Viewers enter into a rectangular container that is roughly the size of a family dwelling in one of Mumbia’s densest slum. The walls and ceiling are filled with small renditions of buildings, and the closeness of the panels evokes the chaos and claustrophophia of living in an urban setting packed with so much life in so little space.


From the same artist, Build me a nest so I can rest is composed of mass-produced clay bird figurines that have been painted to give them some individuality. They are representative of the migrants who flock to megacities like Mumbai.


It was so interesting to experience these pieces and see these megacities from the perspective of artists who live in them. Other works included materials as varied as metal kitchen utensils, reused plastic bags, and doorways dating back to the 13th century. See the whole exhibition at the MFA through July 17. More information available on the museum website.

Image Credit: Laura Chassaigne

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