Stories from the heart of the land

Nine city-based artists have come together for the third edition of the (en) counters project, which investigates the symbolic and economic significance of land in a city like Mumbai, through their artworks and performances

At a time when the entire city is practically dug up for different civic projects, artist Mansi Bhatt decided to ride a bulldozer from Borivali to Azad Maidan.

(En) counters: Land (of) mine

She intended to demonstrate the importance of land and how aggressive digging and reconstruction work affected Mumbaikars.

Her performance was part of the third edition of the project titled (en) counters: Land (of) mine, organised by the Mohile Parikh Center and ArtOxygen.

Several artists including Tushar Joag, Pradeep Mishra, Anupam Singh, Prajakta Potnis, Uday Shanbag, Sharmila Samant, Vijay Sekhon and Justin Ponmany are part of the project.

The aim of this project was to explore the importance of land in Mumbai's context.

Artists, through their performances, have tried to understand the different aspects of land and the problems associated with it, in terms of space, identity, possession, border sharing and so on.

City tales
The project, which kickstarted this Saturday, saw artist Pradeep Mishra build a portable house made of materials available only at the top of the Kanheri caves hill in Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The installation explored how the natural environment forms a unique habitat.

On a different vein, artist Mansi Bhatt undertook a Bulldozer yatra from Borivali to Azad Maidan, this Sunday. "With the way things are going, I can envisage a family going out on a bulldozer for an outing. Mumbai has not seen so many bulldozers together in a very long time," exclaims the artist.

When she reached Azad Maidan, she started digging the land with her fingers and then buried herself, with people throwing soil on her.

"It could symbolise Samadhi, burial, death due to lack of space or something else. Creativity has many threads that can be interpreted in different ways," says the artist adding, "Such aggressive digging is quite frightening. It makes me very insecure personally and I guess its doing the same with others as well."

The project will also see Anupam Singh interacting with migrant workers in Navi Mumbai as he tries to portray their impressions of home on to bricks. Prajakta Potnis will highlight the reduced footpath that pedestrians have to walk on near the Kandivli East station skywalk.

Artist Uday Shanbhag looks at areas that were previously considered open spaces but have now been converted for recreational purposes and he will be doing this performance using a holy cow.

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