The in situ wall drawing depicts a 19th-century map of Mumbai, shaped like a seducing hand. The hand nudges a young man who has to join the workforce in order to survive. In the corner is the mandatory thumbprint that might provide the identity of existence for all Indians although even with a thumb, Eklavya may not get his identity card.

The skipping girl innocently jumps in the air providing a moment of joy while the cares of quotidian life weigh heavily on the adults. Prose from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities overlaid on the girl serves as a reminder that a city develops in one’s imagination; its measure is through the quality of one’s life and its creative expression. The dense geographical lines are provided a moment of relief by Bahinabai’s poem 'Dharitrichya Kushimadhi'.

The work was featured as part of the exhibition 'The Witness' by Nalini Malani. The exhibition was curated by Tasneem Zakaria Mehta and Johan Pijnappel. In this exhibition, Nalini Malani explored concepts and concerns that have preoccupied her for decades - notions of oppression and dominance, of freedom and justice.


  • Title: City of Desires (Variation III)
  • Creator: Nalini Malani
  • Date Created: 1992/2020
  • Location: 19th Century Paintings Gallery
  • Type: In situ Wall Drawing
  • Material: Charcoal and Ink

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps