Nalpar and Pilla Gudi projects in collaboration with indigenous artists Rajkumar Korram, Shantibai, Gessuram, Gangadevi from Bastar, Navjot Altaf from Mumbai and neighboring communities’, Bastar, Chattisgarh State, Central India.
To understand parallel and different modes of art making, art and public space in relation to different disciplines and areas of study and research we got interested in interactive / co-operative / collaborative art making processes. And ‘art’ that evolves from dialogical process, an endeavor that is exploratory, collaborative and dynamic, questioning our visual and cultural literacy, limitations and conditioning. As we come from different cultural backgrounds, to discuss contemporary art practices critically, we have been coining terminology and the language to have deeper dialogue between us. It requires a long term involvement to perceive, formulate or develop visions and work /rework on them. Interaction with community members over period has helped us to understand the workings of the social networks, and issues associated with respect for adivasi culture and human dignity. Issues at stake also included the urgent need to be informed about social rights to enable them to make decisions, however basic they may be.
Nalpar site is one public place where people of all ages come to fetch water. This process oriented / site specific project evolved from our interaction with the community members’ overtime. Fetching water at the hand pumps in extremely unhygienic surroundings and Nagar Palika / municipal department not providing proper drainage was one of the issues discussed with them. Dialogue with the municipality officials to work around the hand pumps installed by them initially engendered their interest in the project only to an extent of allotting few sites for this experimentation. Our concern was -
*Firstly to create drainage and water tanks for wastewater to be reused and to improve hygiene
*Secondly, to create heights for women to place their vessel to avoid weight on the bent leg before placing it on the head. (According to the doctors a peculiar bent leg posture harms the backbone)
*Thirdly, to transform such public sites aesthetically where women, children, and men of all ages come for a mundane job like fetching water for domestic or other usage. Designs for pump sites are worked out collectively by the artists on the basis of our understanding of the significance of signs, symbols, objects incorporated by the communities during rituals and social functions and these interactions expanded our understanding of how these productive masses evolve their own symbols around their production processes and how such symbols over the centuries have continued to be part of their spiritual life as well as , how in present times they are able to relate to the new signs, which have been evolving due to changing political, cultural and economic environment.
Now after being engaged with this project over a decade i can say that dialogical practice for me has other forms of inter-subjective effect at various levels, and as Grant Kester points out “site of production and process of reception is generative in ways, which is unanticipated”. We are interested in questions / discourses around approaches to interactive /collaborative contemporary practices. It is distinct from studio-based practice and interpretive criticism of art. Here one sees the interested participant who is later a viewer and again a possible participant’s presence “ at a close proximity as a resource for the analysis of reception that normally is not accessed by a viewer or interpreter who only wants to enjoy the outcome of the process /or an object alone”.
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