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Radical Housing and Socially-Engaged Art

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13&14 June 2014

All the invited artists and Gram together spend long sessions in discussing their issues and concerns regarding Eco Sani Irri Toilets. They also discuss the viability and sustainability of their projects. Although most of the artists had proposed specific projects when they applied for the residency, however it was very interesting to notice how some of the ideas and concepts were conceived, developed further and even entirely changed during our discussions. The core which the artist came up with went through series and layers of changes and transformations in the works. This, I understand as the process of evolution and a path of growth which each concrete and fragile concept went through. This is becoming possible mainly because the artists are living here at Gram. The change in landscape and cultural surroundings is bound to have its own effect in the minds of the artists. Excerpts from one of the discussion sessions at the Gram Project Eco Sani Irri


Katherina came with a basic idea of making a Water Purification system and said that few ideas that can be developed further by seeing what local techniques are used in the village houses. She wants to make simple water filter with stone, charcoal and sand. If possible she would also make the filter at the playground. ‘We could write some message about sanitation and water management.’ Is what we all suggested Katherina. She also proposed the idea of making an installation at the playground with garbage. We all suggested her that we could also think about making graffiti on the walls of the toilet of the school taking reference from the school text book of Environmental science and sanitation ideas from their books itself.


Kalyani has come to the residency with some basic issues and concerns around which she wants to work. In past two days she has come to see the male domination as it functions at Pardasingha. In her opinion this not very different from what happens in other small towns. She has noted the fact that in spite of having a Sarpanch who is a woman it is husband takes major decisions and handles work that has to happen in the village. Eve teasing that happens at Paradsinga is also a concern that Kalyani wishes to address through her work. For this she is planning to do small survey in the village tracing the spots of eve teasing and getting hold of young village boys who are involved in such activities. She wants to help the women feel safer at night at dingy corners of the streets of the village. By talking to males involved in such activities she says that she wants to convert their waste of energy in building a communication bridge between men and women. Kalyani is of the opinion that through folk singing and bhajans similar messages can be given to the local population. She would think on how these messages can be converted to little rhymes which can be sung in a group performance.


Within the larger project of Eco Sani Irri Jeenal Patel, artist from Ahemdabad came with a definite objective of working on sanitation. Marking the issue menstruation as a central objective the idea was to engage with girls in puberty. Jeenal also suggested that drawing workshop and story- telling sessions on the subject of body and hygiene etc. could help unknot hesitation amongst girl about the internal and external changes in their body. The Asaha karyakarta women who work with n.g.o. for pregnancy and menstruation could be invited to speak on subject of hygiene. Gather them and talk by Organizing play clubs. Her idea is to address hesitation of age and issues of hygiene and sanitation. Introduce traditional games, songs about menstruation within the village. The idea was also to make women aware of association of nature with women. We all started thinking of ways in which we could gather young girls and types of art forms which are mediums like geru and alpana and games like hop scotch not including the young boys of the same age.


With her background in English literature and interest in creative arts Shrishti has proposed one the finest ideas out of all. She has proposed to make a wall magazine. The idea seems extremely potential to all of us. It has power to unearth the creative abilities and at the same time is of a sustainable nature. This Wall Magazine can allow the creative potentials to nurture and flourish in the village. The basic idea is to collect articles, short poems, drawings, jokes etc. from the children and other people in the village which will also help to bridge the gap between old and the new generation in the village. We thought that we could also invite writers of the village to write the editorial for this magazine. The idea of Wall Magazine will not end at collecting material but there will be a committee to carry out the wall magazine and its duties will be divided amongst the village children. Referring to the idea of ‘little magazine’ which were used for propagandist reasons in the leftists revolution this wall magazine will create an awareness about Ecology Sanitation and Irrigation.This was proposed as one of the most sustainable projects which can easily be taken forward.


Samudra introduced his ideas of conducting a theatre workshop with children and developing a public performance out of it. His idea of this performance is to allow the exchange of ideas and understanding of performance as perceived by the village. As a performance artist Samudra has proposed to work with the idea of disposable theatre. Samudra feels that medium is not a big deal be it street play, an installation, performance or even any two dimensional art etc. During the discussion he emphasized and all the artists agreed that or major concern is to generate and conserve energy within the artists circle and transmit it in the village circle.


Kriti has picked on interesting concerns which are to do with village and its community. She noticed that there are different communities living in the village which includes Schedule Tribe Schedule Caste and other backward classes. Kriti is also has a very important opinion where she thinks that smaller children could be used to bridge the gaps of community. She has decided to make small brooms with the village children and transform these brooms into dolls which can be kept in the respective houses of the children who create it. This idea to involve village children with the broom making community seems like a proposal which will allow exchange within the village communities.


Hameeda works mainly with human form and body. Her main area of interest being puppets, she wanted to create along with other village members, puppets made out of available material here. After realizing the seriousness and importance of Eco Sani Irri Hameeda is planning to work under same concerns. How her skill can be used to emphasize on necessity of Eco Sani Irri toilets is what she has decided to create through her puppets and educate people in the village about.


Sadya works mainly with architectural forms. Here in residency she says that her concern is illustrating the problems of the villagers through installation or any other interesting form or medium. She has also proposed to create spaces and places where a healthy environment could be created for prospering womanhood in the village without the fear of male dominance. Focus has been to maintain the collaborative energy.

18th grand finale. This discussion has helped each one of us and also our work to evolve. Thus as decided in the meeting the project will deal with the artists understanding of psychology of the local population and the designs will be organic, tailor made models for Paradsingha. The discussion ended by following lines posed as questions, stimulants, catalysts to trigger the creative process of concept building and technical aspects within the artists.

Shakti Bhatt

No one can help anybody. If i create a problem I have to solve it. Who will solve it and moreover how is it possible for anyone to help the other without being in the same position. He also emphasized that ‘High Tech is not always the Right Tech’ and elaborated by saying that a wonderful commode, glazed tiles are not sanitation. He said that everyone involved with this project will have to know the understanding of sanitation is different for the urban and rural village.