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Zariyein

Zariyein was a community-based art intervention that sought to explore the rich diversity of lived experience through images and conversations. Participants were required to document impressions of their everyday lives through photography and audio recordings and this documentation then went into the production of a device for the wider public that would stimulate conversations about collective representation.

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About this programme

Zariyein was a community-based art intervention that used images and conversations to explore the diversity of lived experience. The project sought to probe and reveal the interactions between people and their spaces/experiences. Participants were required to document impressions of their everyday lives through photography and audio recordings. This documentation was then circulated through the wider public and used as a device to stimulate conversations which would hopefully lead to a collective representation of that particular area and context.

Since 2006, Zariyein has been carried out in three diverse locations:
Khirkee – An urban village in Delhi.
Shillong and villages in the East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya.
The Tehri Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.

Zariyein, in Urdu, means ‘through’.

Zariyein I

Zariyein I (Nov-Dec 2006) Khirkee, New Delhi
Photographs and voice recordings were used to present multiple perspectives and a layered narrative of personal and local histories. These multiple stories have enabled a re-viewing of the space and its existence within the urban metropolis.

The process began by inviting people to record their impressions of Khirkee using photographs. These photographs were then circulated amongst other residents in the village. People looked at the photographs, identified familiar faces and landmarks, told stories, laughed and asked questions. Conversations were not restricted to simply what each photograph depicted, but rather served as a catalyst for discussing something more than what was being visually portrayed.

Gradually, through this process, the photographs became images of Khirkee imbued with distinct sets of meaning. Zariyein in Khirkee culminated in a four wall installation using images, text, and sound. The first wall had images taken by the residents as well as the facilitators. The second and third walls had select sets of images chosen by other people in Khirkee from the original pool of photographs. Extracts from conversations with people were used as text over the two walls. Audio recordings of the photographers (explaining why they captured a particular image and what it conveyed) and other residents’ reasons behind choosing certain images were played alongside the first and the third wall. The fourth wall was left blank for people to add photographs, write comments, create and express their own visual impressions or experience of life in Khirkee. This installation was set up in a public place in Khirkee.

Zariyein I was a collaboration between Frame Works, Aastha Chauhan and KHOJ Studios.

Zariyein II

Zariyein II explored the economic, social and cultural significance of a network of bazaar buses that connect villages in rural Meghalaya with the urban market centre of Shillong.  Bazaar buses are the lifeline of these villages and Zariyein involved people associated with the bus (regular passengers, bus staff, people who work at the bus stand in Shillong and inhabitants of some villages in the East Khasi Hills district) to understand what they thought of and felt for their bus.

Ten people of various associations and positions photographically documented their relationship to the bus. The photographs and conversations generated from the task referenced various elements such as the villages the bus moved through, the journey, the happenings on the bus, the city, the market and the importance of the bus in their lives.

A selection of these photographs were assembled in the form of a photo scrapbook, forming a narrative of the buses’ journey(s) from the village to the city and back. Two versions of the scrapbook were circulated through some villages in this district and the city of Shillong for four months. People could go through these books, write what they felt or associated with the photographs, draw, or add more photographs. The public viewing was incredibly rich and manifested in multiple ways through various levels of engagement.

Zariyein III

Zariyein III was undertaken in Tehri Garhwal in collaboration with Henval Vani, a community radio group based in Chamba, near New Tehri town.

Zariyein III tried to explore the idea of what it means when a place ceases to exist. Tehri town has been submerged by a dam operational since 2006. People affected by the dam have been relocated to New Tehri and in other resettlement colonies around the area. Today, traces of the town remain only in people’s personal histories. Zariyein III attempted to document memories and perceptions of people associated with Tehri.

Using photography and sound, members of Henval Vani shared their own experiences and interacted with people from old Tehri town. Members created their individual audio-visual pieces; all the submissions, although distinct, were thematically connected and eventually came together to create Zariyein III – a remembrance of a town through diverse experiences and stories of various people.

Zariyein III was a traveling artwork taking part in various public viewings in four locations of the Tehri district. In some districts the work evoked a longing for the past, in others, some felt, it was futile to refresh painful memories. Some people narrated personal histories of how they were forcibly removed from their homes with little or no compensation and also reflected upon how they would have protested vehemently against the dam if only they had known the truth behind it.

Zariyein aired on the local cable network, eliciting responses and written letters from audiences. Some even took copies of Zariyein III with them as a means of remembering their lost Tehri.

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