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Art and education in environmental action in India – Bath Spa University

Two talks on the role of art and education in environmental action in India

Wednesday 3 November, 2021 – Wednesday 3 November, 2021
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM


In collaboration with Compound 13Disappearing Dialogues and researchers at Bath Spa University, we present two fascinating talks about the role of art and education in environmental action in two distinct regions of India: the East Kolkata Wetlands and the recycling centres of Dharavi, Mumbai.

Compound Tera – Plastic Ka Mela

Sharmila Samant and Ben Parry (with Prutha Jain and Laxmi Kamble live from Compound 13 Lab)

Each day Mumbai generates approximately 9,500 tons of waste, much of which finds its way to Dharavi and enters one of the largest informal recycling centres in India, based mainly in the 13th Compound. The Compound 13 Lab was established in 2018 by a team of artists and researchers as an experimental learning space and urban ecology lab. It has developed a programme of workshops, classes and artist residencies which introduces design and media tools, audiovisual technologies, 3D design and digital fabrication to disadvantaged, marginalised citizens who, because of their socio-economic status, do not normally have access to these resources. The lab utilises the materials and resources of the recycling industry, particularly plastic, as the starting point for learning and teaching about ecological design and living solutions.

A new book about the project, Waste Work: The Art of Survival in Dharavi (Wunderkammer Press, 2021) documents this long-term project about waste, work and survival. It reflects on some principles, pedagogies and processes that can begin to uncover injustice and inequality, and offers ‘materials of hope’ for young people and workers caught up in the vicious cycles of an economy and society that treats them as disposable. The vital contribution made by informal waste recovery through the self-organised recycling sector remains undervalued by the state and rendered largely invisible, echoing the marginalised and disposable status of the extremely poor workers that sustain it.

Jol-a-Bhumir Golpo O Katha | Stories of the Wetland

Nobina Gupta and Saptarshi Mitra, Disappearing Dialogues

For the past five years, Disappearing Dialogues Collective (dD) has been engaged in the East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW) – working at the intersection of education, environment and innovative arts practices. The EKW spread across 12,500 hectares on the eastern fringe of Kolkata is the largest stretch of sewage-fed wetlands in the world, a protected wetland under the Ramsar convention. Conservation of the EKW is an urgent necessity. This conservation is not just physical, but also encompasses the myriad lives, practices, unique traditions and stories of the marginalised, invisible EKW community. 

Through a series of alternative workshops, youth of both community and city gain familiarity and knowhow of the intricacies of the socio-spatial reality they are part of. This adds a dimension of knowledge that, unlike standardised forms of education, is able to instill within them interest, ownership and pride. These interventions have arts practice as a methodology of engagement – be it in the development of contextual awareness, in the creative recycling/up-cycling of waste in the community, or the dissemination of realities of the place in a powerful way to a wider section of society through exhibitions, seminars and annual events.

Book your place

This event will be hosted online and is free to attend. Please book your place using the button below.

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