SpaceMatters curated and designed the Bonjour India Experience pavilion, a one-of-its-kind travelling exhibition at the heart of Bonjour India that celebrated Indo-French collaboration. Combining art, architecture, experience design and urbanism, the 9 meter high, 800 square metres and 40 tonne installation travelled approximately 3500 kilometres from the iconic India Gate in Delhi to Cross Maidan Garden behind the historic Churchgate Station Mumbai to become the star attraction of the world’s largest book fair in Kolkata. It welcomed more than 180,000 visitors over a period of 30 odd days. An outcome of possibly one of the single largest and most diverse collaborations between India and France involving artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, designers, artisans, builders, researchers, institutions, corporations, academicians, publishing houses, architects and many others. The Bonjour India Experience brought together extraordinary content and talent from both countries, which was presented to an equally diverse audience. When asked to suggest an appropriate public space to place the Experience in their city, associates initially suggested commercial malls or museums. Often perceived as elitist, these spaces cater to a small segment of the population in stark contrast to the diverse, inclusive energy of the urban public space in Indian cities. IFI and SpaceMatters took the decision to locate the pavilion in truly public urban spaces instead of economically and culturally exclusive institutions. However, the pavilion’s inclusive accessibility and interaction with the urban context became its defining characteristic and was instrumental to its success.In the visitors’ book of the Bonjour India Pavilion, people often remarked at the pleasure of encountering the unexpected on an ordinary day; the joy of a whirlwind journey into a French culture on the way to the everyday commute to work, the discovery of a new land and language, and the rediscovery of new aspects of our own shared history in Indo-French collaboration.
The Bonjour India Experience