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Radical Housing and Socially-Engaged Art

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After receiving a Negotiating Routes: Ecologies of the Byways grant for their project ‘Reconciling Ecologies in the Millennium City’ in 2013, collaborators Alex White Mazzarella, Namrata Mehta and Soaib Grewal released an associated publication Zameendari Zimmedari: From Land Ownership to Responsibility. This publication was launched at KHOJ, during an evening event to celebrate 5 Years of the Negotiating Routes project.

In March 2013, Alex White Mazzarella, Namrata Mehta and Soaib Grewal entered Tigra, a traditional village that has been standing for seven generations in what is today Gurgaon. Tigra and its agricultural land were slowly being encroached upon by immense economic pressures, high-rise developments, and the arrival of a new lifestyle. Over the course of the month they listened to locals’ stories and experiences, created spaces and events for open discussion and activities where stories and sentiment could be shared amongst residents. These conversations bore witness to accounts of community, power, culture, and values as they collide and change, now documented through rich visual ethnography, artwork, and writing in a book brought together by the trio, tracing the path from Zameedari to Zimmedari.

Alex White Mazzarella, Namrata Mehta and Soaib Grewal came together almost in the manner of joining dots. They work as a multidisciplinary team with varied experiences in design, research and social art practices. While Namrata and Soaib have often been brought together by their common interest in engaging with the everyday experiences of living in Gurgaon, Alex brings to the collaboration an experience of community based art practices in India and other parts of the world. Together they engaged diverse communities and ecological issues in an attempt to reconcile ecologies in the millennium city.

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