City is a potent evidence of human conquest and domestication of vast landscapes and natural ecosystems. Development has always been anthropocentric driven where humans have continued to tame, fragment, disintegrate nature, sometimes to enhance productivity, to increase food supplies, or to reduce exposure to pests and predators, or to make more room for human habitat. But while doing so, we have made many unforeseen changes that pose relentless threat to our natural environment and in turn to us. In the last couple of years, the question of sustainability has suddenly become urgent. We have confronted with less production, more air pollution, water and soil pollution, become vulnerable to diseases, have seen beautiful wildlife disappear, and we are increasingly jeopardized by not understanding the nature of being. The recovery starts when one understands compassion, the value in coexistence with nature and where freedom begins by absence of control over it. Sustainability, therefore to us lies in the inter-connectedness and interdependence of all life forms- humans, flora and fauna and all that exists on earth; and one must protect and celebrate the diversity, complexity and function of the ecological life support system.
Through our work we are sharing how the fragile fellows of our city are doing, while some are becoming extinct and leaving the city, some are proliferating and adapting. While we embrace the idea of the bringing the wild back to the city; these images showcase and questions, can nature thrive again and contribute to our daily existence? Can we respect all forms of life and value their interdependence?
The work combines two mediums of visual representation- photography and painting. The photograph depicts the
context/setting of the story and the painting emphasizes the dominant subject and our perception of the problem in a very quirky way. The art is done in traditional Gond technique of painting.
Another example is of Raccoons who are curious, fiendishly persistent wild animals. Often labelled as pond-raiders, dumpster-divers and garden-destroyers, raccoons have a bad reputation for making a mess in pursuit of the perfect meal. In the face of changing landscapes and urbanization, these are the most adaptable species and they too are finding place to survive in urban cities and homes.
We believe this project will give voice to the countless issues that our cities are facing, raise awareness about biodiversity and also open up new ways to look at our cities as functioning ecosystems, where all life matters.
Mansi Shah (Artist)
Vishal Mehta (Photographer)