This project is inspired by one of our curatorial international projects from Meteor International platform. In all of our previous editions we have called the program, "Hidden Art". "Hidden Art" has been an experimental exchange where the collective has tried to make a dialogue between art and viewership. Curatorially, this time we are trying to push the boundary to a further level than that. In "Hidden Area", it will be an amalgamation of multi-layer exploration and deconstruction of ongoing structural ideas about “public art design”. The purpose of "Hidden Area" will be to find out the scope and space in the city which is conflicting and contrasting at the time...KNOW MORE|#hastaghiddenarea
In this curatorial project, we are also focusing on the larger international exchange to understand the possibilities of critical perspective about democratic space in community art. We already accepted all kind of creative dialogue in any terms of forms/possibilities.For more information regarding participating artists at the exchange program(Shillong'19) do follow the international exchange.
Chapter 1 | Shillong
The history of Shillong says that it was a small village which became the new civil working space of the Khasi and Jaintia hills in 1864. It was made a infirmary for the British in 1829, during the First Anglo-Burmese War. 1829 is when the Khasis revolted under their great leader U Tirot Sing. Subsequently, this place was made the British headquarters which was then named ‘Yeddo’. The name ‘Shillong’ was adopted later due to its location below the Shillong Peak. In 1874, it became the capital of composite Assam under British rule. In 1972, after the formation of Meghalaya as an independent state, Shillong became its capital.(for more read : http://smb.gov.in/history.html)
How to Reach Shillong by Road: There are innumerable buses plying between Guwahati and Shillong within every half an hour and these services are provided by the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) and Meghalaya Transport Corporation (MTC).| How to Reach Shillong by Air:The nearest airport is Umroi Airport, which is situated only 40 kms away from Shillong. But flights to Shillong are available only for few days in a week. Other airport which offers connectivity to Shillong is Gopinath Bordoloi Airport situated in Guwahati.| How to Reach Shillong by Rail: Guwahati railway station is the only nearest one to provide you well connectivity to Shillong with the rest of the country. So, for reaching to Shillong through train, you have to reach Guwahati and from there, you can hire any other mode for further journey of 120 kms.
An idyllic town nestling in its canopy of floating clouds, afternoon torrents and undulating hills; This is indeed an exotic view concocted through its “remoteness”, predicated upon a distant “centre” and commoditised by a burgeoning tourism industry- yet look closer, and you see unfolding a rich traffic of myriad histories. So is Shillong a wearied metropolitan’s remote “North-Eastern” wet-dream, a frontier on the periphery? Or a dynamic “gateway to South-East Asia” 1? Lying at the crossroads of various trade routes and waterways, rendered porous through its very geographical nature, it has been enriched by waves of migrations- from the Burmese and the greater South-East Asian landscape that forms this region’s major inhabitants- the Khasis, Jaintias and Garos 2. They developed democratic administration and a prolific oral tradition while extensively trading with the neighbouring Ahom Kings and Sylhet, 3 then, under the Mughals of Bengal 4. The Colonial Period only enhanced its importance, building roads that connected Shillong-Dawki-Sylhet 5, binding them in an arterial flow of economic and cultural exchanges that culminated in Shillong’s rise to status as the Capital of erstwhile Assam 6. It grew into a cosmopolis further with the pouring in of many more communities, each to serve the needs of the Colonial Administration 7. Post-Independence, in 1972, as Meghalaya came of age into its achieved Statehood, Shillong stood unaltered as the Capital… It continues to be in a flux, its historical cosmopolitanism prevailing through a changing politico-economy, where the street-food brought in by migrant Bihari labourers forms as intimate a cultural phenomenon of Shillong as its dynamic and plurally rich music; where the noise of Capitalism, of rapidly growing industries, of towering malls, sprawling food chains, felling trees dwell with the thriving folklore nurtured from the bosom of familial memories. An “abode of clouds”, an abode of multiplicities, of tensions, of harmony- It is the restlessness of a sudden rainfall; it is the serenity of an ancient hill.
1.Patricia Mukhim:“Where is this North-East?”, Indian International Centre Quarterly; Vol. 32, No.2/3, Where the Sun Rises When Shadows Fall: The North-East (Monsoon-Winter 2005), pp.179;“Locating a region by placing oneself at a point central to oneself is a patently arrogant stance.” | 2.Sutapa Datta, PhD Thesis, “Socio-Economic Structure of Urban Khasi Population in Meghalaya with Special Reference to Shillong Urban Agglomeration; A Geographical Analysis”; Chapter IV “Historical Background of the Region”, Pg-82.|3.They would mainly trade oranges, limestone, salt, betel-nuts, etc as finds mention in the Ahom Chronicles of “Buranji”; Manorama Sharma “Sources and Construction of History: The Histories of the Khasi-Jaintia and Garo”, Pg. 1.| 4.Records suggest that the scribes and accountants of the Khasi Syiems could maintain records in Bengali, Assamese, Persian or Arabic, owing to the trade relations that existed!|5.Dawki was an important trading centre especially for the Jainta War tradesmen; L.S.Gassah, “Trade routes and trade relations between Jaintia Hills and Sylhet District in the Pre-independence Period”. | 6.The British Headquarters were initially at Sohra.| 7. The different localities had their specific composition of communities, settled according to their economic profession. Sutapa D., PhD Thesis, Pg.95-96.
Further Reading : link 1
1. Stranded on a silent intersection of the street, as the hand slogs along the weight of the iron, as the industrial steam evaporates to touch the forehead… as beads of perspiration collect, as the creases on the fabric smoothen, a drop of sweat trickles down the resolute face... | 2. An “orbicular" corner in the middle of the road, pivoting whom reckless taxis and busy citizens rush against time; yet time gets arrested as the taste salivates the tongue, a “corner” in the middle of the nowhere where narratives evolve every mundane hour. | 3. Curled up on the side of the street a story gets retold every day, an "untitled" story that was born about 3 decades ago- a blue tent, a rising steam, a simmering aroma, a smiling face….hot momos on a cold dusk. | 4. The sewing machine running its rhythm, since last 15 years, what all must it have been witness to? Changing times, the changing city or is it about displaced memories which need to be "hem" once more in the name off hidden histories? | 5. Perched on a lush green hill, a house rendered in ruins, a warm nest of toiling bodies thriving in communion, speaking the language of their common displacement and dispersion.|6. A corner where meets four roads. At the confluence of the four roads emerges a small shop where stories live within multi-layered bubbles; a story that breaks past the notion of “grand narrative”, a story that lives on through the scorching heat and thundering rainfall.|7. Built in the 70s, growing very organically with the time and space. More than physical architecture it is also a space where "pluralism" been explored in various manner in Post-Nehruvian Indian socio-political context. its presence in a space that holds a vast diaspora of migrant labouring bodies only attests to the larger perceptivity.|8. The performative language in urban everydayness. From the outer sphere, it looked like a process of washing and cleansing; but the parallel reality it is more performative than that, here cleaning is a metaphor of urban way of looking at sanitation in terms of "class and conflict". The white clothes drying against the lush green of the hills. It is live and never-ending performance between class and caste orders.|9. Is it simply an over-bridge or a corridor to multiple ecosystems of sustenance or livelihood? On the one side life flows by through the humdrum of the flowing water, dotted with the mundaneness of washing and cleaning; on the other side, time becomes timeless in the stillness of the dense bower, like many dewdrops caught within the green taro leaves.|10. Unplugged for 15 years, an old barber shop sprouted suddenly amidst a rapidly winding staircase. It is even further important where we are constantly provoking our opinions about "ways of seeing", in the context of "design" and "popularism". The idea of 'gallery' is not always about a certain way of designing a cube, sometimes it can pop-up from our close-door life in a very fluid attitude, this small room is a quality example to re-establish the idea of a gallery with mundane expressionism.|11. A filthy yard with irregular memories and thoughts from urban high rising societies, a yard which is not made for dump but to archive the industrial city's unnamed waste, or can we see it as a neo-conceptual space for the future “cyborg generation”? |12. To witness the constantly meandering water that will merge into a bigger river, to witness the various people collecting there, each unlocking a different story in that time-space- this small staircase facing the undulating hills is a witness to the changing city-scape, to time itself.|13. A center of interactive exchange, it is majorly known as 'The Library' but sometimes it is the only worm hole where time is de-centered through the presence of decades-old chapters, the generations of readers that have come and gone, the memories inundating it…
In Collaboration With
The artist group Meteor based in Seved/Sofielund,Malmö make art projects mainly in the public space, at unexpected places. The group was formed in 2003 to make it possible to make larger projects that needed many participants and that could reach out to an unpredicted audience. The group consists of artist members of different ages and thereby bridges the gap between older and younger artists which is one of the main ideas behind the making of the group. Meteor has a network of artist members from India, Iran, Egypt, US, Estonia, Germany, Denmark besides its Swedish members. We want to make art that reaches also to a public that are not used to go to art galleries or art museums
In Associated With
TAC, also known as tracing a city, is an intimate collective effort to explore the various cities using individual performative instincts. This is not a project for new performance production, rather we consider it as an open initiative for practising the essential elements in terms of performance methodology. TAC is an independent experimental space, it is not about an individuality and it is free from geological and geopolitical boundaries. Though tracing is an experiential practice, yet TAC is very inclusive and collective as well. TAC invites all serious practitioners to come and be a part of this initiative and help us to grow together. TAC will primarily concentrate in three areas - space, time and body. There are no copyright issues inside the collective.
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