KOCHI: The ongoing two-month ‘Rooting (India): The Knowledge Project curated by Chicago-based Tricia Van Eck along with two others contrasts the general sights of the historical Jew Town in West Kochi with an organic garden that lines up photographs, drawings, diagrams, artists’ books and pamphlets. It focuses on how communities around the world are redefining their critical needs and devising solutions for long-term sustainability of nature.
According to Tricia who has conceived the KMB’14 collateral along with Delhi-based artist-activist Akshay Raj Rathore Singh and American Deborah Boardman it connects art, food and ecology through projects by artists, activists and farmers from primarily India and the United States. The images depict nearly three dozen works.
“Here we make no complaints; no statements even. We essentially present instances of solutions to ecological, social and economic challenges faced by farmers and consumers across the globe,” says Tricia.
As of now, the organic garden of vegetable plants - tomatoes, lady’s finger, chilli peppers and spinach - are grown from the seeds of septuagenarian Kochi resident Tecady Matthew Varghese, a farmer in his younger days.
Many projects here question knowledge and how it may separate us from nature. For instance, one by Manish Jain from Shikshantar, an Udaipur-headquartered organisation that challenges contemporary modes of thinking that devalue traditional knowledge and historical traditions, shows how employing cow dung can in fact be a good input to make facials.
In Hyderabad, Madhu Reddy has transformed her ancestral farm Aiyor Bai into a holistic farm when contemporary artist Arunkumar H G’s map is of his family farm located in the Sahyadri range of Western Ghats.
The 46-year-old Kannadiga is developing the Centre for Environment and Art to foster his own and his neighbouring farmers’ rediscovery of sustainable life and farming practices.
A work by Ruchika Negi and Amit Mahanti looks at the politics of food aid, malnutrition and hunger by interrogating the food aid industry through one of its most common symbols: the fortified biscuit.
Londoner artist Stuart Roweth’s Bee Gym is designed to sit on the wire mesh floor of a modern beehive while Kate Daughdrill’s Burnside Farm is an urban community farm in Detroit, which is gardened for sustenance, community, and beauty. Troms - A City as a Garden looks at a Norwegian city as a garden, where nothing is wasted.