Sahjeevan and Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) are jointly hosting the ‘Living Lightly: Journeys with Pastoralists’, a Curated Exhibition of the Life and Livelihood of Pastoralists in India, at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi from 2nd to 18th December 2016.
The 17 day curated traveling exhibition on the land, lives, and livelihoods of Pastoralists in India will capture the lives of Indian pastoralists – their remarkable history of mobility, the eco-systems which nurture their life-world, their culture, science, art, spiritual moorings and the economics of herding. It is being organized with the intent to provide space for the voices of pastoral communities, the exhibition will investigate the changing narratives around pastoralism in India, explore the relevance of herding and herders for environmental conservation, and engage in cultural mapping to unfold the various aspects of these communities’ cultural identities. The exhibition will unfold through a host of events and exhibits including pastoral crafts, music, film, and oral narrative performances. Sushma Iyengar is the lead curator of the Exhibition and has spent the last three years putting together the elements central to the exhibition.
The exhibition will be inaugurated by Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Honourable Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India, at 5 PM on 2nd December 2016 and will be attended by Pastoralists, NGO functionaries, Academicians, Government Officials, and Policy Makers from across India.
We take this opportunity to invite you to attend the Inaugural Function of the Living Lightly Exhibition on 2nd December 2016, and the other events that are planned from 2nd to 18th December. The Inaugural invite, a general event invite, along with a calendar of events to be held during the Exhibition are attached for your reference. Please share this with your friends and family.
“My work is interested in the transformative and reciprocal nature of desert landscapes, places of
wilderness which inspire in some people a particular type of connection to country. It is more than a
way of living or a spiritual restorative, it is a deeper type of nourishment, a symbiotic and intricate
relationship to the natural world which offers a sense of personal identity and meaning. The Maldhari
herders of Kachchh, the Rann and Rajasthan regions of far north-west India are some of the last truly
authentic exemplifiers of this inclusive relationship. My artworks in this exhibition are informed by
bearing witness to their desert migrations and the resulting riches of cultural creativity that is the legacy
of their lives.
The ancient idea of nomadism, of walking the land with animals according to the terrain, the ecology,
and the daily and seasonal rhythms is a very intimate gathering of knowledge, an environmental Ground
Truth. It is also a fundamental human instinct as important as that of story and myth in the human
Today, however, it is less and less possible for the world’s desert peoples to move freely across their traditional lands and routes. Many rights of passage have been lost and living on these lands is
becoming increasingly complicated and fraught with dangers. Under intensifying pressures on their way
of life in the wake of technology driven global development, the Maldhari have exhibited a remarkable
tenacity that is a testament to the cultural and spiritual importance of this people-place relationship and
the human desire for this intricate connection to the natural world. The real value of their lives is not
only in their inherent understanding of the land, but also the living link they provide to historic
indigenous worlds. They offer a completely original contradiction to the global corruption and
homogenisation of art and culture.
In Australia there is a direct living link to this nomadic spirit and cultural heritage of the Maldhari that
stretches back to 1860 when camels were first brought to the continent from India for inland
explorations in the central deserts. Although the cameleering tradition is a threatened heritage
worldwide, I have spent the last ten years as an Expedition Artist walking into remote empty inland
country alongside a traditional camel string. I gather my knowledge on foot, reaching deep into the
whole context of the land, alert to all the details it holds. There are still things that only the human eye
can see and only the human hand can record. My role as an artist is to not only represent what is seen,
but also the unseen.
I have discovered that the people-place relationship to desert landscapes is very particular. There is a
certain instinct that nomadism, walking and living lightly on these lands inspires. As a fellow desert
traveller, the opportunity to know and work with the Maldhari and their culture was an invaluable
experience. We share a special affinity, a collegiality through our relationship to desert lands and our
instinctive artistic compulsions. The experience has given me a much more profound understanding of
the importance of my own contribution in describing the elusive primary sense that lies in the alliance
to the natural world. It has illuminated the extraordinary value of the art and cultural material that flows
from some of the most seemingly harsh and inhospitable places on the planet.”