Artefacting in Dharavi: A Response - by Gay Gilles, photos courtesy of Keirnan Conroy Klosek
I am an artist and teach an after school art program in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. My students range in age from four to ten years old. In the program they are exposed to various mediums, meet working artists and visit exhibitions and places that are relevant to the program and their artistic development.
This winter 2012 all my students saw the “Artefacting Mumbai” film from Dharavi. The class discussed the urban and social community of Dharavi and the artefacting team’s artistic and social impact. They were interested in the residents of Dharavi’s reactions to the team’s three-month stay. During and after seeing the film the children drew sketches in pencil and charcoal of symbols, textures and colors they felt were important to the film. Images ranged from oil cans, children jumping on large, gray recycled bags, the painted wall murals that were rays of color in an otherwise monochromatic dense urban landscape, plastic parts, melting ovens, and the color blue. They then transferred their images with paint on to materials we thought were reflective of the textures they saw in the film. Our choices were untreated wood covered with resin, corrugated roofing materials and metal sheets.
- Sketching symbols from Artefacting Mumbai-heart, rays of color & ragpickers
- Creating a Dharavi Landscape on corrugated metal
- Dharavi Urban Landscape
- Recyclables, an oil barrel and ragpickers painted on corrugated metal
During our classes we were able to discuss why they chose the images. “The river is brown in the landscape because people wash off dirty things in it”. “The children are having fun jumping on gray bags having fun with arrows pointing the direction of their jumps.” “Rays of color from the art teams murals.” “A girl recycling a bottle at her local market here in Massachusetts.” One student decided to paint aerial views on wood of roof tops with many colors, and then again in a more simplified form with old nail polish on metal.
- Dirty River Landscape
- A Girl recycling her Bottle in Dharavi
- A Girl Jumping on a Bag of Recyclable Plastics
- The Power of Artefacting
The overall experience has been dynamic and exposed a small group of children to a world beyond what they are familiar with. Their visual reactions are exciting and produced a new dialog.
We hope our work will be shared with the team and residents of Dharavi India.