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Radical Housing and Socially-Engaged Art

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17 June 2014

Kriti Gupta, artist from Jaipur, had come with a preconceived idea of working around Eco-Sani- Irri. While we came settled and went around the village she was particularly intrigued by the broom making community living the outer circle of the village. Although broom is an everyday object in every household yet has a stigma attached to it. The basic idea was to work with children whose minds are yet naïve to understand differences based on social inequality.

It is very interesting to see how her ideas evolved during the course of the residency. Being in the village around the kids and interacting with the families living around the vicinity of the possible interactive circle there were some that were left out as they could not belong within it. Her choice was deliberate in the manner where it became all inclusive for which Kriti decided to learn the skill of broom making and brought this community within a school remise where the broom as a form aloud for it to transformed into a doll which resonated well with the school children.

Kriti took a workshop with school children. In this workshop the techniques and details of broom making were imparted to the children along with aesthetics of doll making. In the process of which social taboos were addressed. These brooms are made out of dried palm leaves. The artist also the community that  is also worshipped as goddess Lakshmi during Diwali

The way community takes the idea of broom making very interesting. A small ritual was carried out after the brooms were ready as dolls. It is this very ritual conducted by the Yadav Kaka which is reflective of how the brooms are perceived by the villagers. Kaka was of the opinion that the brooms could be misused for the purpose of black magic and it was in this context that he decided to conduct a ritual around it. Of this incident what was interesting for us to note was how the village still has a living tradition of black magic. This very act helped us know the community a step further which otherwise would have not been possible. The way the artists were included in the ritual is also self-reflective of how community based art projects complete their circle of give and take. While Kriti worked towards addressing the issues of social inequality of particular community through this workshop in return we artists  were invited in their circle for this particular ritual.

After the activity was over the group went to each of the house of the children and spoke with the families around their ideas of sanitation. The intention was not to arrive at a solution but to initiate a dialogue and to bring to surface the understanding that they already know the conditions they are living in but choose to take an initiative and choose to ignore. These dialogues were recorded on white sheets of cloth cut in small squares. Each square cloth contains house number and address of the villager and the idea of sanitation of that household. These have been submitted to Gram as a record for their further references.

The agenda of the residency was to sow the seeds of awareness and it was around this basic idea that this event was conducted.