An ongoing art exhibition focuses on the plight of Indias landless tribals and farmers
The image of the back of a skinny man,who seems to be looking inside the hollow bark of a tree,at once catches attention as one enters the Open Palm Court Gallery at India Habitat Centre. Below this painting is a sculpture of a pair of feet,shown walking into a city through a canvas cloth,which has a forest painted on one side and a city on the other. Titled Manthan,this is Delhi-based Vikram Nayaks way of depicting how tribals,owing to industrialisation,are being uprooted from their culture and condemned to live in cities,where they find no connect.
This work is part of an ongoing exhibition titled Walking: A Dialogue Between Art And Social Movement,which showcases 55 works by Nayak,British photographer Simon Williams and Swiss multimedia artist Nesa Gschwend. The common ground: depicting the lives of Indias landless. Interestingly,the dates of the exhibition coincide with Mahatma Gandhis birth anniversary as well as International Non-Violence Day on October 2,when one lakh tribals and farmers will start a month-long non-violent march called Jan Satyagraha 2012,from Gwalior to Delhi.
Another work by Nayak,called Now Asserting,shows faces emerging from wooden barks screaming into a microphone,seeking help. Inspiration for this came while I was shooting for a film in Chhattisgarh. As I visited the place,I could only see burnt trees around, he explains.
It was during a jeep tour in 2002 that Williams came across Ekta Parishad in Bihar,an NGO that works for land rights. Over there,he witnessed how a silent village turned into a pop-up theatre,as activists dropped in amid chants. He decided to capture those moments. One of his 35 photographs on display comprises the picture of a tribal named Jugri Bai,sitting on protest with her daughter.
She saw her husband being murdered at the hands of forests officials. After this protest,she was compensated and land rights were granted to 6,100 tribals like her, Williams said.
The exhibition is on till October 10