I am working on a three screen video installation on the city of Bombay in India with the Rush Hour as the focal point. I am looking out for any person or organisations who will be interested in collaborating and financing this project. I am posting an outline of the project, people are welcome to comment on the project.
The three screen video installation will attempt to bring out the smell and taste of the city with rush hour in the trains as the focal point. For me rush hour epitomises the stage of development that the third world is at the moment, where it is normal for the people to go through the humiliation of travelling in inhuman ways, with hardly any air to breathe. But people don’t have the energy to fight as who wants yet another fight after the day to day struggle of existence where they might be humiliated by their boss who has the ability to hire and fire them as the reserve army of labour is waiting to take their place. Its so easy for people to become docile here.
What does Bombay stand for? The ever growing city, 14 Million lives, their survival, their anxieties, the city has a day and night, sleeps and then wakes up, characters in the city, a woman who travels every day in the trains, she paints and writes poetry to get a breather. A woman chops vegetables in the train as she is going form office to home to save time. A place where people feel lonely and try to fight it in their own ways.
Every city has a soul, there are cities within a city, villages within a city. For going out and entering the city we have the railway station which is often our first interaction with the city, an unforgettable memory. A railway line or a drain separates two different parts of the city in terms of class. The class structures will be so clear to those who study our ruins one day. The standardisation in a city, so peculiar to Bombay. The sandwich will taste the same all over the city as if it is mass produced, this is because we are aspiring so hard to wards a uniformity, an alienating uniformity.
The city has zones so clearly demarcated, those of birth and death, people are born in a maternity wards and most of them will go to the same electric crematorium after they die. If you are a hindu or sikh its beyond your control to not go in crematorium. I will have to eventually. If I have an accident I will face a post mortem too in that cold room and my dead body will lie in the morgue, where I might be identified or not is not sure.
The guys who work in the shops live in the shops with the closed shutter or on the roof of the shacks as in the Railway Station. They have to stand the whole day as there is no place to sit. The informal sector in the city, the migrants, the subsistence level, the man shitting on the road as he talks on his cell phone, he can afford a phone but not a decent place to shit. How do I perceive the city, why is it so important for me? It dictates my life, it establishes my existence vis a vis the people and landscape. The phone number defines the class or the place where I live in the city, it takes my time when I travel, the distances in the city are beyond my control, it makes me realise that I am like so many who sweat and sleep in the train.
The letters to the editor say that beggars should become invisible as they paint a dismal picture of the city, the eunuchs should not be allowed in the trains and they are to be laughed at when caught by the police, to be beaten if they have condoms with them. The city has to be clean, cleaned of the beggars and eunuchs. The city is a hope, to get out from so many things, the bounds of success are not known in the city, that’s why it moves the people. The landscape, the expressway, trains, buildings, getting devoid of anything organic or living, like the tar road or a runway that can’t have trees.
The art of a society is also the things of day to day living. The Harappan seal or the toys are the art of Indus valley civilisation, preserved in the museums. What will our cities mean to the generations after us. The flyovers, the factories, the power plants, some nuclear ones with all the waste giving cancer to the archaeologists of the future. The washing machines and microwaves, computers, televisions and telephones will all be in the museums after thousands of years. Soon so much is going to become digitised. Our art, our writings will be in the hard disc. Our letters and interactions will also be in the servers. Our things of day to day use will tell the future world about our aesthetics.
The visuals will be shot in the city and I have already shot around six hours of footage. Large part of the project will be shot in the railway stations and inside local trains during the rush hour. The three screens with the simultaneous projections will give the viewer a feel of the Bombay city during the rush hour , the time when people are aggressive and it is the survival of the strongest. I feel the intensity of the experience of the rush hour is so strong that it will come out better with bombarding of multiple images and sound.
I am looking for collaborators and financiers for this project.