The Artefacting team spent its first month of the project researching, exploring, and conversing with individuals in both Assam and Nagaland to get a sense for the ecological and cultural issues that affect the communities in both states today. A few key challenges have come to the forefront of our conversations. For example, modern Nagas struggle to find a balance between their tribal Naga roots and customs and modern Christian religious identity. “God is not culture,” said village activist Michael Sophi, from the Angami village of Khonoma, Nagaland.
We’ve also witnessed the gradual decline of ancient customs, traditions and folklore indigenous to the Naga people. We’ve heard different opinions on how traditions should evolve, be preserved, maintained or even set aside for the sake of modernity. We’ve heard about a youth Naga identity crisis arising from exposure to outside influences such as Western and Korean cultures that conflict to some degree with traditional customs and identity. In Assam we’ve heard about disappearing shore lines and struggles to survive as the mighty Brahmaputra River encroaches on Guwahati’s riverbanks.
These are just some of the issues and situations that we have delved into, and look to engage with artistically through the creation of the Global Village. What is the Global Village?
It’s a gateway to learning, discussing and sharing issues of globalization on a local level. The “Global Village” is a place that brings people together to discuss and participate in issues that are brought about by the wider world but affect even the most remote locations, such as Kohima, Nagaland, a small, hilly town rapidly urbanizing and affected by the outside world. Significant participation with locals will also mean empowerment and providing a platform for all to express their views and opinions through art, video, sound, dance, workshops and discussion. Together, we’ll explore ecological and cultural degradation in real time; an engagement and transmission of the challenges of urbanization that relate not only to the Indian Northeast but worldwide.
So, in Guwahati an Artefacting team is growing rapidly and developing a project that focuses on ecological issues including flood awareness and bamboo architecture. They are in the process of building an advocacy event to take place along the banks of the Brahmaputra River. We’re working with architectural students, local artists, design students and musicians to finalize this project. See the project page or the facebook page for their discourse…
At the Kohima base, the local team has just been granted a permit from the municipal government (YES) to transform a dilapidated and overlooked public space into an artistic platform for community engagement, participation, expression and experience. Our team of artists are working on the public installations which will be unveiled soon. See the project page or the facebook page for the evolution.
We have six weeks to make this project happen. What will it look like? That will be determined by the citizens of Kohima, Nagaland and Guwahati, Assam as they realize the Global Village. Of course, we’ll be with them every step of the way, documenting the process through photography, paintings, writing and video.
Modernity meets tradition during Aoleang - a traditional celebration in the Mon district in Nagaland.