Selected works by Tushar Joag

Tushar Joag
The Enlightening Army Of The Empire (detail)


Installation comprising 16 figures, perspex, plastic, brass, mild steel, wood, electric bulbs, wire and mixed media

Figure size: approximately 183 x 49 x 61 cm each

Tushar Joag explores art in the public sphere. As an interventionist and inventor of mock corporate identities, he takes a satirical look at the urban classes and suggests that art is responsible for maintaining cultural continuity. This rhetoric leads him to conceive of unicell, a corporate body of one, that mimics many of the absurdities of government bureaucracy in a continent reliant upon social and political solutions. The Enlightening Army of the Empire 2008 is an installation comprising sixteen robot style figures that are animated by electric bulbs and stop lights. This Disney styled army of dishevelled robots appear to stand to attention holding florescent tube lights as possible weapons against human kind. Each individual robot is crafted with a subtly styled, quirky personality. Each of Joag’s steel figures stands loosely to attention, as their individual light configurations illuminate their location and tangled wires join their feet collectively.


By Rudradeep Bhattacharjee

It was ironic, I thought, that I was interviewing Tushar Joag on the day of the BMC elections.

Here, after all, was someone who spent his waking hours doing things like developing a special vending cart for hawkers that, on the approach of raiding BMC officials, folds up and morphs into a 'Shanghai Couch' - a contraption more "acceptable and up to the standards of the planned makeover of the city"! Or designing Commuter Attachment Systems (CAS!) - foothold accessories for hanging by the door, accessory seats, folding tables for playing cards - in order to ease the inconvenience of train commuters during rush hour!

The Public Works Cell - Counterpoint of the Public Works Department?
Tushar Joag calls himself a public intervention artist. I was intrigued by his 'art', and equally disturbed by, what seemed to me, the cynicism that ran through his work. Believing there is no place for cynicism in art, I was ready to ask some tough questions. I began by expressing my curiosity about the name of his organisation: UnicellPWC.

PWC, he informs me, stands for Public Works Cell - in the spirit of the notorious Public Works Department; UNICELL is short for unicellular. It is a single-person organisation run under an assumed identity of a corporate. The aim - "to create works of art that seek to make interventions in the urban space, by designing and producing objects that while being functional and aesthetic bring into focus the various concerns of the immediate situation."

The Turning Point...
Tushar traces back the reasons behind starting UNICELL to Open Circle, an artists' initiative co-founded by him. As part of Open Circle, he was instrumental in organising study circles, public actions, protests and other interventionist strategies of art making and amateur activism. The experience left him dissatisfied. Being an amateur activist was all right, but his field was art. As an artist, he found his creativity restricted. He wanted to do more than merely design placards and posters.