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Radical Housing and Socially-Engaged Art

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This special screening of KP Jayasankar and Anjali Monteiro’s documentary ‘SAACHA: The Loom’ took place as a constituent of the public programming for ‘Rooee’, an exhibition by Guncotton.

Organized as a part of the Curatorial Intensive South Asia Fellowship 2019, supported by KHOJ International Artists Association and the Goethe Institut, ‘Rooee’ addressed the ’empire of cotton’ in two of its most prominent sites: the South Carolina Lowcountry region and the textile mills of Bombay. Guncotton holistically explored how the industrial revolution and the concurrent reign of capitalism transformed the “demise” of the global cotton trade into a futurity of black and brown ambivalence.


The fabric of the city emerged from the warp and weft of diverse threads, from the labour of migrant communities that made Bombay/Mumbai their own. The cotton mills and the proletariat that worked in them were central to the creation of the city.

Through the poetry of Narayan Surve, the paintings of Sudhir Patwardhan, the music of the Shahir Amar Shaikh Cultural Troupe and the filmmakers’ images of a precarious yet resilient space, Saacha chronicles the changing life and times of a city that was once the hub of the working class movement in India. Weaving together poetry and paintings with memories of the city, the film explores the politics of representation, the relevance of art in the contemporary social milieu, the dilemmas of the left and the trade union movement and the changing face of a huge metropolis.

Saacha, filmed in 2000, when the cotton textile industry was in the final stages of its decline, brings to bear an intimate and perceptive gaze on the lifeword of the mills and their workers, which has since been totally erased from the history and geography of the city.

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