KHOJ International Artists Association
28 March2006 - 28 April 2006
Hotel Al Noor, Chitli Qabr
5 min 45 45 sec.
(12"x18")x22 color prints,
5 min. 45 sec. video, knife, mashk filled with water
Working on a lens based project proposed by Mr. Gigi Scaria on the old
walled city of Delhi called ‘DILLI DUR AST’, I had conceived
a few works which would examine, to quote from the concept note-
‘…a city within a city reveals thousands of cities inside.
The idea is to intervene or understand the space; the city we live in
more closely with expanded artistic equipments. In this process we might
even rethink and question the possibilities of our common practices to
produce a work of art. The intention is to interact among the people around
in order to understand certain social norms and ways of life which contribute
to contemporary culture to be alive….’
includes certain key words such as feudalism, migration, modernization/industrialization,
I have been working on water as a concept for some time now, I conceived
two works which allowed me to further pursue the concept within my own
practice and to expand it with an attempt at a different medium.
One work titled ‘Mashk’ had me examine and intervene into
a community of Qureshis, traditional butchers; it also examined the
notion of providing free water from a traditional leather water carrier-mashk,
which is made of a halal goat.
I had wanted to get a mashk made which would be totally my own; that
meant the leather carrier had to be some where of me, from me. I could
think of no other way than to buy a goat myself and attempt its slaughter
in the traditional manner with the guidance of a Qureshi.
Which turned out to a difficult task as only one family from the about
300 families staying in old Delhi agreed to teach me but with an assurance
A mashk is a traditional water carrier made of leather, usually of goat,
which is always ‘halal’ [traditional Islamic way of slaughtering
animals for meat].So starting with the first step I bought a goat from
the wholesale animal market after spending four days there watching
live animals come in and meat come out which helped me formulate the
work. I attempted to ‘halal’ it myself under the guidance
of a reluctant Qureshi, who warned me that if I halaled the goat he
would not touch it nor skin it as that would be absolutely against his
The attempt turned into a reality; I did halal the goat. The goat was
skinned by a Hindu butcher and the hide used to get the mashk made.
The attempt resulted in a 5 minute video which fore grounded my experientiality,
22 color prints [12x18in] foregrounding the act, the resultant installation
had the mashk and the knife as exhibits as well.
The person who carries the mashk and offers drinking water is called
a ‘Bhishti’ which also means life giver, as ‘Bahisht’
means life in Urdu. So to give life one had to, in a way take a life.
The other work involved mapping the ‘piaus’ the traditional
free drinking water sites of old Delhi. The works shot frontally shows
the garish tiles, pan stains, spit, accumulated dirt, and the way we
actually treat free things in life –with no respect.
process of examining Old Delhi is still going on with me visiting certain
sites almost every week as an attempt to analyze our changing relation
with water and water sources man made or otherwise.