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Radical Housing and Socially-Engaged Art

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15-18 June 2014

Kalyani is a Mumbai based visual artist. She has been working with conventional mediums however this residency changed her idea about art as a means of expression more than medium and she chose to do performance art at the Gram Residency’ Eco Sani Irri’. She had done some research on the subject of Eco Sani Irri before coming for the residency. Her basic idea was to work with specific propaganda for Eco Sani Irri toilets in the village. Though her basic idea was to transform urinal as flower put and then make an installation but like everyone else’s her means of expression changed when she came in contact with the other artists invited at Gram. The village vicinity and the survey conducted by her brought her to realize that this residency was not about creating individual works of art however the idea was to bring the village community to believe that introduction of ‘Eco Sani Irri’’ toilets in the village would bring blessings to living conditions of the farmers and other village residents. She conducted detailed survey in nine to ten houses and explained each one of them personally the merits of Eco Sani Irri toilets however at the same time she thought it was necessary to invite people as a group so that it could spread even faster and much further. For this she organized a small interactive session at the village bazaar which was a compliment to Katherine’s, (artist from Serbia) water purification system installed at the same venue. People of the village came together.  This was a platform where each of the artists addressed to the villagers their purpose of coming to Gram. This was conducted with a small question and answers, jokes, riddles etc. It was quite a success.

Whole last week Kayani caught hold of that section of young boys and men from the village who would spend all evening loitering around. She had an interactive session with these young boys and got them to help her for her work. This interaction was unique and of its own kind. She chose a spot where these males would sit idle.

With the help of these people Kalyani transformed the portico of this building as a shrine which displayed Eco Sani Irri commode. The area was  filled with texts talking about merits and revolution which introduction of such toilets could bring about in the village. All the text made with the help of these young boys are in regional language.

To promote healthy relationship between the adolescent girls and young males, she invited the girls from the village to make rangoli around this shrine. The activity was concluded by singing glories of Eco Sani Irri in form of aarti, part of Hindu ritual. The portico which was transformed to Eco Sani Irri shrine was decorated with lamps flowers and rangoli, aesthetics of which left the village people wonder that a place which was dingy and shady could be transformed into a place like this!