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Radical Housing and Socially-Engaged Art

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Studio interfaces with Sarover Zaidi

Part of the Coriolis Effect Edition III residency

The shrine of Pedro Shah sits quietly between Victoria Terminus Station and the Bombay docks. Pedro Shah, an 18th century Portuguese pettiwala (wicker-basket load carrier) at the docks, was possibly the first labour organiser in Bombay. The story goes, when his Parsee employer demeaned and beat him during lunch hour for not immediately loading the baskets, Pedro got up in a slow rage, walking briskly through the bazaars, his baskets miraculously flying beside him. Today revered as a Sufi saint, his shrine is visited by the working classes. Not too far away, across the Indian Ocean, in Kenya, M.G. Vassanji narrates a similar tale. Yet again, labouring Indian railroad workers in North Kenya tell the tales of their shrines with flying-basket Sufis.

Did the stories fly or did the shrines fly or did the baskets fly?

This annotation, this qasba, this room gathers indexes, notes, objects, citations, iconographies, buildings, motifs, stories, debris and designs and their repetition, circulation and production in the everyday life of a city anchoring itself by the Indian Ocean. Whether it is anchored or adrift is yet to be concluded.

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