MADHYA PRADESH PROJECTS
Bundelkhand situated between the Indo-Gangetic Plain and the Vindhya Range among the undulating steep hills stretching out monumentally, rising abruptly from the vast plains, the in-numerous dwindling rivers, forest covers, mines, which was once invaded through centuries due to its unbounded richness and heritage.
In Madhya Pradesh it includes Datia, Chhatarpur, Damoh, Panna, Sagar, Tikamgarh, Vidisha etc. Locally inhabited by tribal(adivasis) who were initially hunters and gatherers, the region holds a rich historical background with ruins of local temples and majestic forts and legacy of kingdoms. It is known as Bundelkhand after the Bundella Rajputs who descended from the Orchha clan and came to power after Chandellas.
Baghelkhand is a region within a mountain range that covers the northeastern regions of Madhya Pradesh and a small area of south-eastern Uttar Pradesh. It includes the Madhya Pradesh districts of Rewa, Satna, Shahdol, Sidhi, and Singrauli and Chitrakoot of Uttar Pradesh. The Baghels, who give their name to the region, are a branch of the Solanki who once ruled in Gujarat and migrated eastward in the 13th century.
Baghelkhand has traditionally been neglected because of its isolated location. The population of the region consists chiefly of tribal Gonds and Kols. Agriculture is underdeveloped but rich in deposits of coal, limestone, bauxite, clay, and quartzite among which the first two have been mined extensively. Unlike Bundelkhand region, Baghelkhand is very less documented.
Archiving Awareness: Building and Knowledge Sharing Through Art
Research and knowledge should return and reach the people of the region in formats that are easily accessible and which help them realize its value. Steps to preserve and archive inherited knowledge can also function as resources for future work.
As indigenous knowledge is threatened with the death of the community’s senior citizens who have not passed it onto the younger generation, it seems necessary to create intergenerational connections within the community and foster the transfer of such legacies.
DD has initiated this process with the guidance and support from experts and institutions such as Madhya Pradesh Tourism, INTACH, and the Archaeological Survey of India, it potentially builds a bilingual, audio-visual archive to be housed on site as well as online.
Open Forum: Community Engagements and Co-Creation
In the second phase, an Open forum organised at Art Ichol opened discussions, presentations and exchange with DD collaborative team, expert collaborators working in various sections of the society who were invited to join the team to widen their approach, address various identified issues, create awareness and build strategies to work towards an efficient capacity building plan in future within the community.
All collaborators conducted specifically out of the box community workshops with various sections of the community, co-creating and evolving new
dialogues through innovative interactions using art as a mode of bonding.
Community Environmental Awareness and Activation
The future aim is how to spread awareness about ecosystems and natural resources - community members do not understand the existential issues related to the environment, loss of biodiversity, which is gradually leading to problems of food and nutrition. Natural resources and agricultural prosperity are the backbones of community wealth.
Critical ecosystems are vanishing due to rampant development projects in the region. How could natural resources help in creating livelihood within the region? Product development through these natural resources could be channelized for economical support.
Self-Empowerment and Capacity Building
As skill enhancement and capacity building are long-term goals, where Art Ichol needs to be functional. A small workshop was established to work under a roof, within the inspiring space of engagement but looks for support for a livelihood generation plan. The constant effort and support communicating the guidance of collaborators to the local girls and women within the workshop along with Art Ichol resident team members helped to make this process successful.
Thus, stating means of conservation and development of environmental and cultural heritage, dissemination of knowledge and finding alternative livelihood solutions for women and children by the collaborative team members.
Skateboards to Artboards workshop
Dreams and Aspirations workshop
Art and ecology workshop
Video and photography workshop
Furniture making workshop
Embroidery workshops for skill development
With the guidance of Annapurna Garimella of Jackfruit Research and Design, Anke Scheurmann, A. R. Vasavi, Monisha Behal of the North East Network (NEN) and Sally Holkar of Women Weaves DD connected to others working with communities to develop their capacities.
This has furthered the project and helped every practitioner gain clarity about their role. These discussants have sustained DD’s momentum. Some collaborators actively worked with the community while others supported the process by sharing their expertise. A common vision and set of objectives has evolved and this mode of working for social change has become the self-identified goal of the collective.
It is important to share collectively generated knowledge across boundaries.
DD was ideated to evolve into a collective assimilates fresh concepts through art practices such as paintings, textiles and other handicrafts, films, photographs, digital art, performance display, architectural prototypes, furniture designs, interactive interfaces, research documentation and much more.
Worked with Art Ichol, Jackfruit Research and Design, Madam Buklesha, Five Mile Radius, Kadam, Green Hub and Dusty Foot Productions, Asmi Books and FICA, the project has started to aim higher to create wider access both for the project as well as the local communities of the region.
At Bikaner House, New Delhi, in November 2017, we shared the work of Disappearing Dialogues with new audiences through an interactive and unconventional exhibition, both through this publication and a film, both of which document the journey so far and open it for critical engagement and commentary which can only benefit the project.
We extend our sincere thanks to Art Ananda Trust and Madhya Pradesh Tourism for their support.