Inside Bandra's Fluxus Chapel: Owner Himanshu shares vision behind his passion project & more

Inside Bandra's Fluxus Chapel: Owner Himanshu shares vision behind his passion project & more

"...encouraging a more conscious approach to creation."

Fluxus Chapel is a dynamic community space in Bandra, inspired by the Fluxus Movement - a radical art movement of the sixties, first initiated in New York. Led by artists like Himanshu S., Jai ‘Zaiu’ Ranjit, Neil Ghose Balser, and others, this hub fosters creativity, learning, and conversations.

From workshops to screenings, this reading space in Bandra, situated opposite Waheeda Rehman's mural, nurtures an artistic ecosystem. In an interview with Knocksense, Owner Himanshu S. shared his experience relating to Fluxus, and how he doesn't want to compete with the digital world. Read it all here.

"Fluxus is just like all of us are, always evolving..."

Q. What is Fluxus Chapel's origin story?

Himanshu shares, "We have run similar spaces earlier, like right from street side to garage pop-ups and then I thought it would be fun to have a more of a stable space in the middle of the fanciness of Bandra...but it is dedicated to a lot of independent publications, I make stuff myself, I have been making for quite some years."

He adds, "I'm also one-half of Bombay Underground - which hosts Bombay Zine Fest. Aki and I run it together; some of her work is here as well. She runs another exciting library called Sister Library. So we've always been running libraries, reading spaces and publishing independently. And that was one of the reasons we thought -- let's have a constant space where people can come and physically look at zines, for example."

"And then there's always like art books, graphic novels, film books and art magazines. So it's also like expanding and looking towards processes also, and not just the end products..."

Q. What comes to your mind when we say 'Fluxus'?

"I think it's in the 'fluxus', like the flux us or us in flux" says Himanshu. "I've already put that on our leaflet. It's just like all of us are always evolving. Like what I'm talking to you today, almost some of it might remain similar, but a lot of it will evolve also. The space has developed, and our activities in the last 20-25 years of making zines have grown in certain ways. The scene for zines has evolved too. It has been more visible but it's also kind of getting co-opted by mainstream elements."

Q. What factors did you consider when you chose this location?

"One of the things in Fluxus was about giving possibilities to chance. And it was really like a chance because this was my way to home every day. I would walk from Bandra Station to my house, which is closer to the Mount Mary's backside. And this building had been newly made. I've been in and out of Chapel Road for quite some years; a few familiar spots like Duke's and Kalpana Snack are there, that we visit regularly. But yeah, it was just like this white box which is newly open and I kept looking at it almost every day for a few weeks."

Himanshu continues, "I would not really dare to ask what was the rent because I wasn't sure, but this was during the post pandemic scene. Finally, I approached the owner as to what is it available for but yeah, it was very, very random. I did not know there was a fancy café next door, which kind of pulls a certain crowd, but I did know there was a nice interesting mural across, and the street is fun otherwise. We've done paintings on the walls here, we've had known people who make exciting things."

Q. Do you believe Fluxus aims for a particular market or seeks to address specific gaps in the industry?

"Not really, I've never thought of it as I've been listening to more and more people suggesting these different things about the market and revenue streams." Himanshu mentions, "I almost feel like anybody who walks in is somebody that we would want to attend to, whenever and wherever possible. I also feel it's necessary, that people when they come into a space like this, should really look at stuff. They don't have to be like just click, click, bang, bang and get out of it because that's not really how one should deal with art generally, though art has become that now. I think we are open to anybody because it also is a medium that's very doable by almost anybody. Like you could be excited by something here, maybe by the 20, 30, 50 different zines or postcards and go back and make one of your own! So that possibility of switching from just being a consumer or looking at stuff to becoming a maker is quite easy here".

Q. Do visitors/regular customers have any particular preferences?

Himanshu humbly smiles, "No, I've never really kept a track of that. In the broader world, I know cafes and food are popular, but books, fewer and fewer people seem interested. However, it's still exciting because some truly appreciate books, along with the eclectic format of mixed-up grammar publications. The concept of independent publications is also enjoyable for some. But personally, I've never monitored who likes what and why. Many who pick up such items are individuals involved in various other aspects of life, which adds to the vibrant community aspect of the space, rather than just focusing on sales figures of 200, 300 or 500."

He adds, "For me, what's more thrilling is that people often engage in larger community endeavours we host, like community spaces. I'd say it offers a diverse range of independent publications."

Q. If you were to highlight the unique selling points of this venture, what would you say?

He states, "I'd say, Fluxus Chapel offers a diverse range of independent publications. It may be one of the few spaces solely dedicated to this, hopefully with others following suit with similar ethical standards. We provide a platform for independent voices and materials that might not get attention on mainstream platforms. There's a lot of firsthand storytelling, provided one takes the time to explore. Additionally, there's an emphasis on the processes behind various forms of art, encouraging a more conscious approach to creation." 

Q. So, what kind of art can we find here?

"Oh, there is a mix of things. Right from digital prints to actual water colour paintings, works on canvases, zines, postcards, and oh, there are rhizomorphs too! It is a fun and interesting Japanese technique, not so familiar with our context in Bombay or India"

Then there are screen prints and a lino cut prints. There are also different kinds of binding in different kinds of genes. So all these making processes are different. There is pencil work too; we also host workshops and drawing sessions but they are very basic."

Q. If you had to say something to the art community, what would you say?

He chuckles, "I'm too small to say something to the art community. I'm just excited that we can simultaneously exist or allow that kind of a mutual space because that world functions on different levels. It's fun for us to keep doing what we are, like what is possible for us to do. It's been said so many times before in the world also, that every time when things are happening in the peripheries, they do affect the mainstream in multiple ways."

Q. How do you plan on competing with the digital world?

Himanshu tells, "I don't have a plan at all. It's almost exciting for me; I have an Instagram page where I post daily stories, but it's not on a regular schedule. I open it randomly, even when scheduling meetings. I want people to come to the space and experience things physically. There's something different about seeing art in person compared to scrolling online. I think it's fun to slow down and appreciate tangible things, especially since I grew up without smartphones. We're all slowly returning to analog activities after the pandemic."

He states, "I'm not keen on having a complete online catalogue; I prefer the idea of leaving some space. Zines, especially physical ones, are important to me because they engage us in a slower, more deliberate process. Digital isn't the same, you can't undo mistakes like in life. Water colour, for example, reveals every layer and mistake, teaching valuable lessons about embracing imperfection and taking things slow."

Echoing the ethos of Fluxus movement

Through its diverse offerings and community engagement, Bandra's Fluxus Chapel embodies a contemporary approach to art, inviting all to participate and learn. From workshops to reading spaces, it fosters an immersive experience, encouraging individuals to embrace art in its myriad forms and derive tangible skills for life.

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