are you nero's guests? | gram art project
13 July - 12 August 2017,
Vadehra Art Gallery, D-53 Defence Colony, New Delhi
Gram Art Project is a collective comprising of 14 members - Aditi Bhattad, Shweta Bhattad, Parvindar Singh, Tanmay Joshi, Lalit Vikamshi, Vednath Lohi, Ganesh Dhoke, Adarsh Dhoke, Navkesh Tekade, Vedant Bhattad, Kunal Humne, Parth Suryawanshi, Nutan Dwivedi and Suman Ravindra Humne – from Paradsinga village, on the border of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Their collective project Gram Dhara Chitra Utsav (loosely translated as ‘Village Land Art Festival’) received Public Art Grant in 2015. The project brought together artists with young farmers and youth from Paradsinga to rediscover traditional methods of farming and irrigation through developing land art installations in collaboration with each other.
The display and presentation at Delhi will focus on the issues of agrarian crisis and collectivism that emerged from this process. While on one hand the group’s interventions over the past years to support farmers via different media like land art, has yielded positive results in relation to soil-water conservation work, tree plantation, reduced use of farm chemicals, the pace and scale of these ‘positives’ is very slow and minute compared to the ‘negatives’ that are happening all around with respect to agriculture.
Farmer suicides, land grabbing by developers, ecologically and livelihood damaging technologies like Genetically Modified (GM) crops are being forced into the farming systems without bothering to involve farmers in the decision-making process. And the farmers who are taking to streets to raise their voice against this injustice are being silenced at gunpoint.
For the collective the urban public response to these crises lies at the heart of the issue. We are like Nero’s guests who said nothing and even participated with relish as the Roman Emperor burnt the poor and the prisoners at the stakes to light up his nightly feasts.
The display will thus focus on generating audience participation using the various media that were explored while working in Paradsinga. The exhibition will include land art, performances, interactive sessions, documentation and presentations to bring forth the complex issues at stake. The strategies devised by the collective through the course of their project, will be shared with the public at large to seek involvement and question the apathy towards farmers and our environment.
ABOUT GRAM ART PROJECT:
Gram Art Project was initiated by Shweta Bhattad. After her Masters in Sculpture from Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University Baroda, she got involved with various public projects, performances, land art and organic farming. In past three years Gram Art Project has grown to include a much larger family of artists, farmers, musicians, local youth and activists, all working together on various issues close to our hearts, through different creative processes. Other members of the group include: Lalit Vikamshi, an artist who did his Masters in Painting from Nagpur University. Lalit is involved in various public art projects and has initiated two art spaces Alagangle and Makers adda in Nagpur. Aditi Bhattad is also an artist with a specialisation in metal casting. Currently she is working with public art and doing performances. Parvindar Singh is into dance choreography, taking various workshops in village and exploring dance with street children in Nagpur. At the moment he is exploring making innovative low-budget musical instruments. Tanmay Joshi has a degree in economics. His work is in the areas of watershed management in farming, working with farmers and weavers, and developing an understanding of a collective, sustainable lifestyle. Ganesh Dhoke is a young progressive farmer from Paradsinga village who has formed a collective that connects 50 farms. He is committed to organic farming and is currently trying to grow indigenous cotton, a lone voice amidst other farmers who are all growing genetically modified BT Cotton. Nutan Dwivedi is a BSc student from Khairi village and a pre-primary teacher. She is involved in various collective projects with women, which includes teaching and designing of paper bags and innovative indigenous cotton rakhis. Suman Humane is a homemaker and mother from Satnoor village and like Nutan works on various Gram Art Project initiatives of making cotton rakhis, paper bags and organic food products. Navkesh Tekade and Parth Suryawanshi are both Paradsinga residents, who are studying Social Work and Textile engineering in Nagpur respectively. Both have an interest in street theatre on social issues and raising awareness. Vednath Lohi and Adarsh Dhoke, also from Paradsinga village, are studying engineering and chartered accountancy from Nagpur. Vednath’s engineering skills and his jugad innovations make life of local people easier while Adarsh is using his accounting skill in the various collective activities. He is joined by another CA student Vedant Bhattad who volunteers for various social activities of land art, rakhi making and indigenous seed saving. And finally there is Kunal Humane from Satnoor village, a young innovative writer and singer. He writes revolutionary contemporary songs related to indigenous seeds, land and various social issues.