“The idea of flux and fragility”: Science-meets-art – Andaman and Nicobar Islands

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Islands in Flux

Pankaj Sekhsaria
Curated by Jaya Ramchandani

This installation is Pankaj’s attempt at bringing out the fragility of the state of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, with its land, and the sea surrounding it, in a constant state of flux.  Comprising of huge photographic prints, printed on silk, the installation depicts the dimensions and scale of an earthquake and a tsunami– how it leads to changes in land and sea, and impacts human infrastructure and wildlife. The idea behind the large pictures is to try and re-create the magnitude of the impact that the earthquake and tsunami cause.

The pictures will be juxtaposed in strategic ways to create a metaphorical space within the literal space of the installation, in order to produce that sense of the fragility of life on the islands. For example, on one side would be a picture of a land uplift – creating more land, and on the other would be of a submergence of land – creating more sea. The pictures will be hung in such a way that they can move with the breeze and the movement of the viewers as well. This will accentuate the sense of fluidity and flux that is at the heart of island systems, and is the purpose of this installation.

Source: “Islands in Flux | The Story of Space 2017”
URL: https://thestoryof.org/project/islands-in-flux/https://thestoryof.org/project/islands-in-flux/
Date Visited: Sun Nov 12 2017 11:10:31 GMT+0100 (CET)

Natasha Badhwar, Livemint, 11 November 2017 | To read the full interview, click here >>

When Pankaj Sekhsaria first travelled to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as a student, he had little idea of how enduring his engagement with the islands would turn out to be. Over the last two and a half decades, he has been an environmental activist, a journalist, researcher, photographer and author—and in each of these roles, he has tried to unravel and communicate the complex issues that define the existence of the islands, its people and environment.

“What is the meta question to be asked about the Andaman and Nicobar Islands?” asks Sekhsaria rhetorically. “Broadly speaking, any system we are part of consists of three elements—the socio-cultural-political, the ecological and the geological framework. On the islands, all these three are always in flux, and we need to find a language to articulate and account for how they influence each other. All development planning needs to take this constant change into account.” As a member of the Kalpavriksh Environment Action Group, Sekhsaria was part of the team of three non-government organizations whose petition before the Supreme Court resulted in orders for the closure of the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) in 2002. […]

The victory in the Supreme Court remained short-lived. Some of the orders, including those for the closure of the ATR, have never been implemented by the administration. The indigenous tribes that go back over 30,000 years continue to be vulnerable to the state and to ideas of development and mainstreaming that have not had any great successful precedence, certainly not in the case of these islands. After years of trying to influence change as an activist and journalist, Sekhsaria published a novel, The Last Wave—An Island Novel, in 2014. […]

Sekhsaria recounts the events that led to his book. There was the failure of the administration to implement the Supreme Court order, followed by the devastation suffered after a tsunami in December 2004. Around that time, Sekhsaria was also reading Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide, a novel set in the vulnerable archipelago of islands in the Bay of Bengal. […]

“What fiction allows you to do is explore motivations and actions in a nuanced way. Good fiction demands that. There are certain voices that are not heard in a certain context, and I wanted to express their points of view and perspective.” In a chapter in The Last Wave, Sekhsaria writes about the connect, or lack of it, between the ancient community that faces inevitable annihilation and those whose actions are leading up to it. “The other original islanders, the Onge and the Great Andamanese, who had cohabited these forests with the Jarawas, had all but gone. The Jarawa were now being dragged down the same path. There was the evidence and the weight of history—the Jarawa would be pushed down the road to annihilation—that was the word David had used in their first meeting. What do the annihilated feel? That was not the question Harish wanted to ask. What does the annihilator feel? How would he, himself, feel when the Jarawa were no more? Not because he wanted them to be vanquished, but because he could do nothing about their slide into oblivion. The world he belonged to did not want to annihilate the Jarawa, but it did not seem to know better.” […]

Like all islands, this archipelago has its own allure in the imagination of India’s mainland population. Besides the attraction of its beaches, forests and sea, there is the historical connection to the freedom movement and the Cellular Jail. […]

Over the years, says Sekhsaria, he began to question what the core conflict between various people’s interests really was. “I realized that somewhere we are dealing with a battle of ideas and ideology and knowledge and knowledge systems. There is a certain hierarchy of knowledge creation. How can we say the tribals’ knowledge is less than the scientists’? They understand differently.” […]

“As an activist, your positions are pretty clear. You broadly take a stand and draw a border between right and wrong. Either the road is closed or the road is open. Either something is a violation or it is not a violation. An able chronicler, on the other hand, tells you all the stories.” […]

As Sekhsaria articulates the eternal conflict between outsiders and insiders, the push for development and the pull of conservation, the island story begins to sound like a microcosm of the wider world. Conflicting interests, a hierarchy of power that seems immovable, a rapidly deteriorating environment, and entire societies teetering on the brink of annihilation. […]

After touring with his fiction and non-fiction books, Sekhsaria has also designed a travelling exhibition of photographs from the island. He experimented with printing images on a large canvas of silk fabric and suspending them, so they moved in the air as light came through the prints. These photo installations are part of The Story of Space 2017, a science-meets-art festival in Panaji, on till 19 November. “I wanted to create another space of engagement between mainland people and the islands,” says Sekhsaria. “The same words and photographs that I had used in court petitions or journalistic articles were now available in a new form—seeking to create a different experience and reflect the idea of flux and fragility. It is the same, yet it is new.” […]

Natasha Badhwar is a film-maker, media trainer and author of the book My Daughters’ Mum.

Source: The storyteller of the islands – Livemint Address: http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/c3LVlRlFu7H93JQuPtXbbK/The-storyteller-of-the-islands.html Date Visited: Sun Nov 12 2017 10:34:48 GMT+0100 (CET)

Prakash Kamat, The Hindu, Panaji, July 07, 2017 | Read the full story >>

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Multiple projects will explore ‘space’ and its connection to science, philosophy, art and culture […]

The overall festival goals are to promote a public understanding of current science; to create a network and platform for science, philosophy, art, and culture to meet through cross-and inter-disciplinary stories; and to promote the sensibility of patterns that connect,” Ms. Shetty said. Over 50 proposals have been selected based on diverse criteria.

Giving the highlights of the projects, Ms. Shetty said that in Physics, Robin Meier is composing a new musical score based on satellite data obtained from the European Space Agency. Alongside, he is sculpting the first-of-its kind musical instrument from a meteorite.

In philosophy, S. Bhuvuneshwari will share concepts of space as discussed in Indian philosophy.

Aalto University Media Lab from Finland opens a line of communication between Helsinki and Goa. New Media students will design two installations, one in Helsinki and the other at the festival, where the audience will interact and communicate with others, in a way that evokes questions around power, nationality, borders, race and relationships. This project under “Politics” is supported by Aalto University. […]

Source: Goa to hold science and art fete in November – The Hindu
Address: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/goa-to-hold-space-festival-in-november/article19235251.ece
Date Visited: Sun Nov 12 2017 11:04:48 GMT+0100 (CET)

Between the 10th and 19th of November 2017, Panjim city will turn into a learning playground with live experiences, immersive installations, workshops, talks, films, and panels on questions around space from multiple perspectives.  Researchers, artists, and educators are creating works with general or specific learning outcomes for audiences that they would not normally engage with. The festival presents and evaluates about 70 interesting projects from around the world and India.

Source: The Story Of | Space 2017
Address: http://www.thestoryof.org/space2017/
Date Visited: Sun Nov 12 2017 11:09:26 GMT+0100 (CET)

“If we take action, the right action – as the report [on Biological Diversity] proposes – we can transition to a sustainable planet.” […] Many good things are happening around the world and these should be celebrated and encouraged […] We have to act now. It is not too late. Otherwise, our children and grandchildren will curse us because we will leave behind a polluted, degraded and unhealthy planet.” – Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary, UN Convention on Biological Diversity – “Extinction: Urgent change needed to save species, says UN”, BBC News, 15 September 2020 >>

“Extinction: Urgent change needed to save species, says UN”
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Tribal communities (Andaman and Nicobar Islands):
AngGreat Andamanese | Jarawa | Onge | Sentinelese | Shompen

Anthropology & Anthropological Survey of India

Colonial policies Andaman | Independent India Andaman

Ecology and environment | Nature and wildlife


Particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTG)

Primitive Tribes in Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Census 2011)

Survival International


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