‘DILLI DUR AST’
KHOJ International Artists Association
28 March2006 - 28 April 2006
Hotel Al Noor, Chitli Qabr
Pahari Bhojla.Delhi.








"MASHK"
DURATION : 5 min 45 45 sec.
Medium
: (12"x18")x22 color prints,
 5 min. 45 sec. video, knife, mashk filled with water
Year : 2006







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….’

‘…it includes certain key words such as feudalism, migration, modernization/industrialization, colonialism etc,…’

Since 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 of anonymity,
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 religion.
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.

The 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.