As a Fulbright scholar I will spent 5 months in India – based at Srishti Institute of Art, Design + Technology. As part of my “Engaged Media” project, I will explore India-specific sustainability initiatives + the art/media methods used to convey them.
CONTENT: You can jump to these pages (links at bottom)
- 1- Do you like my India?
- 2- Auroville Sustainability projects.
- 3- First weeks in Malleswaram + with Srishti + Fulbright colleagues
“Do you like my India?”
The woman who asked me with a bright smile seemed to have taken pity on me after I got yelled at profusely for a cultural misstep on my first day in India. Admiring the large Tamil temple in Chennai I had pointed my camera towards the interior of the main temple. I was too jet-lagged and un-nerved to think of a more beautiful reply and just said something like “I will find out – it is my first day”. I later wished I had said that SHE made my day beautiful. (Chennai, December 11, 2019)
Bangalore Initiation Rites
Day 2 in India brought me to the sheltered grounds of a charming if aging resort in Velahanka, in the north of Bangalore near Srishti art school, my academic base as a Fulbright-Nehru scholar.
The next day I met Arzu, my art + faculty contact/collaborator, who introduced me to a large number of faculty, all very welcoming and curious about my project. When Arzu left for her ‘Art in Transit’ project in the city, I settled into my desk + started to figure out who to turn to for the many arrival logistics from housing to FRRO (foreigner) registration + Indian SIM card. Well – to make a long story short: hurdles all around. But in hindsight, they all got solved (maybe I indulge in a long “getting an Indian SIM story”). Well, since I can only move into my guest apartment room on Jan 6, I decided to spend the time looking at sustainability projects (+ breath fresh air, listen to birds, eat organic food) in Auroville, the experimental, spiritual community near the coast.
But first things first: I attended the Srishti “Radical City” conference Dean Pithamber had invited me to. I enjoyed 2 days of varying urban theories, political + philosophical voices on re-evaluating a livable and sustainable city. The conference was back-to-back with the thesis exhibits and student projects of the Nov-Dec ‘Interlude’ workshops. Among the excellent exhibits was a First Year Master’s exploration of a Bangalore neighborhood with conceptual designs of sustainability improvements. On Sunday I was surprised to find so many Srishti faculty and staff visiting the “Art in Transit” projects in several subway stations. My new colleague Manjari took me under her wings and offered me a ride into the city (a trying 1-hour stop+go, lane-weaving (what lane??) odyssey to cover a mere 23 km on pollution + car-choked throughways. This was my 3rd time in the city. – Twice before I met Arzu to see her work-in-progress, try for a SIM + explore her own leafy neighborhood.
Well, the journey was worth it. Of the many projects I want to just mention the largest, Arzu’s + her Art-In-Transit class’s mural on a rediscovery of ancient water-harvesting techniques – all built from local mud (in distinct colors) with engaging graphic + typographic overlays. Find a thorough description here. (Bangalore December 12-22)