the partition of the mind

I have taken traditional everyday objects associated with domesticity, food, livelihood, which represent social structures —and cut them in half as a metaphor of the rift occurring in India today. Made from the very objects that were used in traditional Indian homes — the brass thali (plate), lassi glasses, tiffins , etc, have been transformed into a new idiom. These objects have been used here as metaphor of the division of our home and society— in a country that is obsessed with “progress” and the GDP — at the stake of our traditional values and an ideals of egalitarianism. In the past, when joint families existed, there were safety-nets in place, which meant a family member in need would get support from other members of the family. Similarly kings would keep some money from tributes given to them aside in times of need, such as famines to help support his subjects in the hour of need.

This fracture of values, traditions and empathy for each other, has led to an endless cycle of consumerism and desire in globalized India and the increase in the divide between the people with plenty and the people with nothing. The farmer suicides prevalent across India today, are a stark reminder of how we Indians are partitioning ourselves for self-gain and greed. We have forgotten that we are a part of a larger joint-family of India.

In this artwork, whose materials have been sourced from Chor Bazaar, I have used the idea of a fissure in our social structures as a metaphor for the creation of a new structure. This new structure has been created out of the bedrock of our traditions (the utensils), albeit in a very haphazard and unrecognizable manner with scant regard and sensitivity to our culture and values — all in the rush for progress and industrialization. We can still recognize that the new structure has been made from the old, but its hard understand how this structure, which has a very different purpose has come about.

This artwork was conceived and exhibited at the following venues: Studio X, Mumbai (February 2016); at Hotel Hotel, Canberra (June 2017) and at the Australian Design Centre, Sydney (April–May 2018).

This work has been published in Habitus and Trends. It was also part of the IDF Mumbai Design Trail.

Porosity Kabari is an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, collaborative project whereby Indian creative thinker Ishan Khosla, Australian object designer Trent Jansen, and Australian architect/artist Professor Richard Goodwin participated in an internse 3 week long workshop in the heart of Mumbai — which looked at various contemporary aspects related to the market, the city and the mass production/consumption cycle, sustainability and various other aspects that came up as a result of the process. The project challenged these three designers to collaborate in Mumbai’s ‘Chor Bazaar’ (thieves market) and ‘Studio X’, using the bazaar as their only source of materials and making processes. In the bazaar, the designers learned from spontaneous conversation and experimentation with the vendors and crafts people working in this manic market place. Conversely, Studio X afforded the designers a space for considered discussion and precise prototyping, in the development of refined ideas to be taken back into the bazaar.

Porosity Kabari — Creative Rationale:
How can something become something else? This is the essence of sustainable design in a contingent society such as India — a society without the common social safeguards of developed nations, one where the survival of each individual is determined by their unique ability to be creative and resourceful. While the rest of the world struggles with the environmental implications of designed obsolescence and disposable consumption, India is a place where resourcefulness is part of the everyday. Found throughout India, ‘Kabari Bazaars’ (Junk Markets) and 'Chor Bazaars' (thieves markets) are the neighbourhoods where many of India's useful things end up at the end of their long lives. It is in these bazaars that many useful objects are given a second life – car panels are transformed into ad-hock cookers and old clothing is quilted into rugs for snake charmers. Radical transformation at its best. What they didn't initially realize was that this object was inspired by their work — the scaffoldings done by them in the building.

One core principal of the Chor Bazaar is the ad-libbed nature of making, where time spent agonising over a design decision is income lost. The short period of time allocated to the designers
(3 weeks) and the ad-hock making methods adopted by bazaar workers meant that design decisions were made quickly. The designers made decision in the moment, as the maker with whom they worked gave shape to those decisions with an immediacy that is seldom experienced in the Australian context. The complete novelty of these work practices, combined with the exotic material palette found in the Chor Bazaar, forced the designers to adopt an entirely new method of designing, changing their practices and providing the potential for a series of outcomes that are unique within their portfolios. The sculptural furniture objects created in Mumbai's Chor Bazaar and Studio X formed the Porosity Kabari Exhibition. This exhibition was presented by Mumbai's Studio X in February 2016.

Last four images by Boaz Nothman.