“Welcome to our lovely home, a house without walls.
I hope you enjoy your stay here. You might feel slightly disoriented but don’t worry. You’re at perfect liberty to take all the pictures you want, videos as well, even sit on the furniture and take selfies. But do no interact without the use of phones as nothing matters more than technological interactions.
We here at the house without walls believe in open communication. Meaning, we keep everything transparent in our exchange of information. There are no walls here to guard you, and you will never go unheard as someone will always be around to pay attention to what you say or do or watch or read. Even when you sleep you will be constantly monitored so no time passes wherein your life is not being observed and recorded and is kept as data for later use.
A house without walls necessitates that we keep no secrets whatsoever. We live in the public eye,and we live for it. Privacy is an outdated concept and has no chance of flourishing in this tremendously open space. You can enjoy your life while simultaneously recording it so that you and others never miss out on a single moment as you sit here and breathe.
So enjoy and share your story, help us reach out to everyone and not be locked in a basement room but spread more neighbourly joy in knowing what everyone’s footsteps sound like. “
As much as this sounds like a dystopian apocalypse of privacy and a general nightmare simulation, I wouldn’t be exaggerating when I say that behind the scenes of this incredible feat was an intense scavenger hunt. Things you do when the funds are low and the time fleeting. Here’s an insider’s account.
Initially, as the plan was unveiled and the means secured, we were extremely excited. Post a team meeting lounging on the sofas at the back of our favourite café, we thought, it’ll be easy right? Get a location, demarcate rooms, set everything up in a free space, and voila! A house without walls is set and ready to go. Well come December we realized the extent of our delusion.
November and December have been for Saintbrush two of the busiest months, what with promotions and printing a magazine, fixing its layout and designing the artwork (all hail the Reya) and running around the city to gather our wits about us, sorting through the workload as it kept mounting. But we were determined to execute our plans, an art installation, the likes of which are very rarely seen around Kolkata if at all. We wanted it to be perfect. But as December rolled around, and we got closer to the date of the house’s inauguration, we realized that this house needs some furniture that we haven’t been able to collect yet. Panic ensued as the tiny team frantically searched for solutions to every two problems that arose as soon as we solved one.
Now comes the fun absurdist element of the situation into play. Luckily our founder of Saintbrush is studying to become an architect so we had the floor plan going well enough, the area under the stairs at GD Birla Sabhagar was taped down and a house plan made. The feeling of a cupboard under the stairs did not escape us but we were determined to make it hospitable and what better way to do it than to hang fairy-lights from the handrails (Ah deception, the millennial aesthetic). Then we sat down while in the midst of our magazine promotional event to look for people who’d maybe donate their doors or maybe a commode or perhaps a gas cylinder to make the house look like one. Simple demands yes? Naturally we panicked some more and planned our next phase of running-around-like-headless-chicken around Kolkata until by another stroke of luck (I felt we could go to a casino at this point) we met Chaiti Nath at one of our promo events and she agreed to lend us her doors. What’s more her doors were decorated with matchboxes which awarded the whole affair a personal touch we could never have hoped for much less procure it. Additionally, she and her friend found us a commode, cleaned it, and presented it to us. I believe ten to twelve odd people smiling and laughing and breathing sighs of relief as they welcomed a toilet “home” is something you witness once in a lifetime.
Two down and we still needed to manage the kitchen area. This, one day before that of inauguration, isn’t a thought anyone was enjoying, more so when we also had another art installation to set up simultaneously. We get to GD Birla Sabhagar trying to formulate a way that would make the kitchen look presentable when we spied an LPG cylinder at the back of the storage room. Guess what happened next- we scrambled to finish setup of course! The mattress and books and lamps and tables placed in appropriate corners, the door standing as a guard to a wall-less existence, a defunct metal detector also borrowed from the secret Birla stash (which we couldn’t help but wonder if it was the Room of Requirement but we weren’t complaining).
Finally, everything was ready, except we hit another roadblock; the plan for getting mannequins to place inside the house fell through. We needed a resident for the house otherwise what’s the point of an empty house; it could change the idea drastically. This time Saintbrush became the solution, and greenhair-wielding Priyadarshini offered to “live” in the house instead thus making the art installation a live one.
Come 1st December we realized that even though it was tough we were tougher, and the whole exercise had built us into a team full of passion and hope and odd bits of knowledge like where to get spare commodes. Here’s to a great year full of new projects, fresh ideas, lit art and being a team. Happy New Year!
From the Saintbrush family.