The Flying Bus, a site-specific sculpture, is the result of a relationship between two seemingly disparate entities: the artist Sudarshan Shetty and Maker Maxity. Responding to the context and space of the maker Maxity complex, Shettyconceptualised the Flying Bus. The installation was unveiled to the public on January 24, 2012, at the Maker Maxity complex in BandraKurla Complex, Mumbai.
Sudarshan Shetty’sFlying bus is emblematic of the city of Mumbai and its endless cycle of endings and beginnings. Now on its way to extinction, the once ubiquitous double-decker bus provided an iconic image of Mumbai landscape. The phasing out of this majestic vehicle, whilst inspiring a sense of loss, also marked the inherent and essential flux of the city.
This constant energetic flux reverberates through every action and decision made in the city and is the basis for every advance, every loss, and in turn, every new step forward. The instinctive impulse to recover and regenerate this vehicle that had reached the end of the road led Shetty to create the Flying Bus – a shell of double-decker with giant steel wings, as though in flight.
Paradoxically evoking both the sheer weight of stasis and potential of movement, the wings, though poised as if in flight, are almost too heavy to allow their own movement, symbolic of the duality present in Mumbai;the energy of the city to propel you matched only by the struggles involved in doing so.
The physical displacementof the bus and its shift awayfromits original purpose echo the confusion of location experienced in Mumbai. The act of bestowing wings on this otherwise utilitarian object was a magnanimous attempt at elevatingit and regenerating it from its state of antiquity. The gesture exemplifies a concept of loss as an allowance for something new to be forged in its place.
Although the bus is stationary, it could house a transitory audience that moves in and out as passengers used to. The Flying Bus, in the future, will become an exhibition space for showcasing work from the fields of art, architecture, film and photography.
A public gallery has been created within a public artwork and Shetty will invite artists to showcase their works. New Delhi-based filmmaker AmarKanwar is the first artist invited to show his work. Two video works are being shown, one on each deck. Next up will be the Bangalore duo Pors&Rao.
The Flying bus weighs 10 tonnes of structural steel required to hold the weight of the cantilevered wings. The bus is 37 ft long, 6 ft wide and 16 ft tall. The entire installation spans 40 ft x 10 ft and is 25.5 ft tall.
Each wing weighs 452 kg, is 34 ft long and 1.5 ft thick. Each wing has 2,988 feathers in 8 different sizes. Each laser-cut feather is Argon arc welded with precisely 3 seconds of arc heat time and 7 seconds of post arc gas flow.
A trailer of 44 ft length transported the bus 600 km from Belgaum to Maker Maxity. It was forced to take 8 detours on the way due to the scale of the trailer and bus atop.
A crane of 30 tonnes with a 75 ft long boom lifted the bus off the trailer and positioned it into place. A spreader frame of one tonne admeasuring 20 ft x 9ft was especially engineered for the task.
It took 248 days to manufacture the bus and 8 hours to install. It took 279 days to fabricate the wings and 2 hours to socket and weld them onto the supporting bus bracket.
A team of 64 engineers, technicians, electricians, crane operators, tin-smiths, painters and welders and scaffolders were deployed to install the Flying Bus at Maker Maxity.