“We grew old living here,” says 55-year-old Radha through a recorded audio that plays as one enters the exhibition — Without Walls,” an exploration of Mumbai’s homeless families, at Fort’s Studio X, a collaborative space for research and design.
Hers is a voice among 1.5 lakh homeless men, women and children who live along sidewalks, under flyovers, near railway stations and along railway tracks in Mumbai, people who have been living there for 40-50 years, spanning across more than two generations now.
Co-curated by Studio X and Megapolis, an urban thinktank for improved city-life, with contributions from NGO Pehchaan and photography collective — Bind, the exhibition provides a peek into the lives of Mumbai’s homeless through a combination of audio stories, photographs, short films, maps and statistics.
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“The project focuses on intergenerational homelessness and sets out to debunk such myths around the homeless that they are single male migrants in the city, who do not work and only beg,” said Rajeev Thakkar, founder of Studio X, Mumbai.
“Everyone has a different idea of who the homeless are. These homeless people are not destitute to the point where they have to beg. They are all working, but struggling to make ends meet,” he added.
Visitors can see them lead their everyday lives as bus conductors, peons, caddies at a golf course or construction labourers, their struggles captured in four short films being played on loop at the exhibition.
There’s also a map tracing the work lives of women who make garlands and barter utensils for garments to scrape out a living.
Investigating into the everyday struggles of women and what it is like to raise families on the street, Carlin Carr, urban researcher and founder of Megapolis, says, “It is different when you are homeless as a family. You create something else of the space you inhabit.”