Monday, 21 July 2008

Proposal for the Project

What is my project about?

The project is about generating an increased level of curiosity in the minds and hearts of the viewers relating to the subject of the situation between the two nations, India and Pakistan.
The seed for doing this project was sowed when I, Vidha Saumya, Indian artist/designer, went to Lahore for a period of nine months for an independent study program. I entered the country with a bit of fear, a fear of the unknown and a fear of what I thought life in Pakistan would be. Embolden and encouraged by the words of Ismat Chughtai and Saadat Hasan Manto, I began the emotionally charged journey that was my life in Lahore. I was pleasantly surprised at how misinformed I was.
There are several questions that an educated, informed and aware individual must ask himself or herself when put into a situation like mine: An Indian in Pakistan. Being a victim of strong propaganda, and prejudiced with a completely different idea, and then to be able to experience the completely different side of Pakistan, though Lahore, can leave a person feeling lost.
So did I.
Then the need to learn, and re-educate ones’ sensibilities takes over, and to present the true picture of what and how things really are, becomes overpowering.
I am surprised, no, appalled at how easily one believes at whatever (mis)information comes across through media, general psyche of people and ignorant opinions of people without feeling the need to crosscheck and validate, and how one is so easily satisfied with information that has so many gaps.

Creative concept for implementation

To present a holistic perspective of life in Pakistan in general, and Lahore in particular, based upon a personal experience of my stay. To present a 360 degree view of life, touching upon the cultural, personal, and apparently minor facets.
I will then apply the same investigative lens to Mumbai so as to compare similarities and differences.

What is the problem or area of investigation, exploration and study?

The idea is not to create a tourist guidebook, nor to expound theories on comparative socio-political-economic conditions of the two countries.

My concerns are the problems and contents of everyday life, and how lives of people from two completely different cities include flavours of religion, nationality, food and cuisines, dress and fashion, perceptions of each other etc.
The fact that there are points of comparison, will enable us to see how similar or different these two cities, and countries really are.

Any knowledge that I had of Pakistan before visiting Lahore has been purely limited to books and films or what the media portrays Pakistan as. The political thought prevailing in both countries misinforms and misguides. Most of the information is because of the false propaganda.
As an Indian in Pakistan I closely encountered what India and Indian means to Pakistan and Pakistanis. I was an observer.
India is something they look up to. India is the diversity they want in their life, India is Bollywood, India is vegetarian, India is where every individual is trained in music and dance, India is where women have a lot more freedom, India is where women ride bikes.India is where people come together and celebrate, where women and men are allowed to celebrate together.
How many Indians know that Pakistan is diverse too, that every Pakistani is not a non-vegetarian, Pakistan is not where women have to be clad in burkha all the time and they don’t work, or they don’t have any freedom. Women don’t ride bikes, but they drive cars. There are women traffic police.
A regular question that has always come across is that why would anyone go to Pakistan for study purposes?

What is the need for the project?

India and Pakistan may be the only two countries that are so deeply intertwined. A common history, a common cultural past, and a bitter rivalry that has lasted for sixty one years, connect the two countries in a way that is difficult to ignore.
With the changing socio-political situation between India and Pakistan, it is important for us as human beings to also present the human side, the details, and the fine print as it were, that define the common people.
There is a need for an emotional evolution for the subject “India-Pakistan”
The content of this project has to be efficiently communicative. It will be something that can be touched, felt, viewed and understood.
My project proceeds with a mindset that it is as normal to be different as it is to be same.

How and where is the project located within a wider control of Art, Design and Technology?

The project operates on a variety of levels. First it remains as an honest account of what happened before, during and after my stay in Lahore.
It then draws parallels between two cities Mumbai and Lahore and presents a comparative analysis.
From an artistic point of view; it makes the viewer enjoy the expression of the delight, confusion and experience of two cities. It will be in a form that can be moved around and is understandable on a universal level.
However as a design student there will be conscious effort to position this work as a resource for ideas, reference material and a palette of experiences.
The approach of viewing the work should be multilayered.

My position as a Designer/Artist?

As a Designer/Artist, my role is to not only design a package, but to design the content itself.
I have made myself a guinea pig and allowed myself to get consumed in the alteration of experience between India and Pakistan, Mumbai and Lahore.
As a designer/artist I consider it my responsibility to present an unbiased account of the parallels drawn between the two cities and countries. I will apply a personal lens to the dialogic exchange and imagery witnessed in Lahore and Mumbai.

Research questions

What is the Pakistani idea about India?
What is the Indian idea about Pakistan?

What is the Pakistani idea about Indian and Pakistani?
What is the Indian idea about Pakistani and Indian?

Images? (Real, media portrayal, personal)
Words? (Tone, language, slang, accent, influences)

What does the partition mean to either side?

Why did I get attached?

What are the links?

What were the barriers, problems, culture shocks? (How much is it because I am an Indian? How much is it because I am from Mumbai? How much is it on pure human level?)

What are the issues raised or to be raised?

What picture do I want to draw as a solution to my problem?


Approach/ Process

The project will be an account of the lives of test case in both Mumbai as well as Lahore; A comparative documentation comprising of interviews and direct observations. I will revisit the places and spaces in Lahore through memory and the bank of images, conversations and drawing I have carried with me. These will help me to focus on areas of observations in Mumbai.
I shall touch upon the history, politics and economics of both the cities only to a level that is necessary in knowing the origin of the nature of my observations.

Material and resources

The ethnographic research will be done to answer questions that rise when I am putting forth a certain observation.
Research will then be in the areas of food, language, fashion and dress, travel and transport and the visual culture that comes across in both the cities.

Illustrations: experiences, people, objects, narration
Photographs: places, people, objects, colour

Research methods

The independent projects done during my entire course of stay in Lahore are not a coherent, singular body of work with specific market intent or target audience, but a palette of research and observation created for future reference. This will serve as the point I will start from

Document conversations from Lahore and Mumbai
Questionnaires and surveys
Map ready data so to make categories
Build a narrative that will comprehend information and give way to new questions
Objective( portraits, character building)
Subjective (to create ambience)

Learning and Outcome?

Being a student of fine art and design I have had the opportunity to work on projects that have made me confident with various techniques like colour, illustration, typography, graphic design. However during my study years I have not got the opportunity to bring all my learning together.
I look at this project as compilation of not only my experiences but also my art and design skills. The project will go beyond a single genre of communication and this will compel me to push my limits as a designer and a creative individual.
With limited time I will learn to stick to deadlines and work systematically. The diploma project guidelines have been very helpful in making me analyze work and think beyond the obvious. The practice to think ‘out of the box’ and ‘trial and error procedure’ is that I hope to perfect.

What do I gain and learn from this project?

What I gain from this project is the satisfaction that I utilized the opportunity of being in Pakistan. Because of the parallels that I wish to draw between two cities I gain a closer look at a city that has been my place of residence since 18 years.
Most important I wish to forward a view and experience of an Indian in Pakistan and provide a perspective to one’s own country.

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