Grant Period: over one year
Shikha is a researcher and filmmaker, based in Mumbai. Cartography, map-making and urban histories have always been of particular interest to her and she has worked on projects connected with these subjects in the past.
The impulse for this particular proposal came from Shikha’s own personal experience. She grew up in a small town for the first twelve years of her life, after which she moved to large metropolitan cities. She visited this place again, almost twenty years later and found that she could retrace paths and places that were once of importance to her. Maps, she realised then, were both objective and subjective. While they could help one locate places, they could also activate different kinds of personal encounters that were at once visual, tactile and sonic. She then found studies had been made following this trajectory. She refers especially to Della Dora’s ‘Memory Theatre’ where Dora describes the close relation between subjectivity and map-reading.
For this project, Shikha wants to focus on the ‘Munn Maps’ as they contain very minute details like shop and street names, landmarks and sometimes names of residents as well. Her aim is to develop factual and personal histories of maps from four different locations in the city. The four localities she will choose will be areas that have developed in very different ways around Husain Sagar and which are diverse in terms of trade, religion, and communities who inhabit the spaces. Her research will consist of both historical as well as a contemporary reading of the past and present, based on records, scientific data and personal oral histories and testimonies of people from the neighbourhood. Her interactions will include interviews with experts from the field of urban studies and cartography together with conversations with a cross-section of the population from the region like homemakers, auto-drivers, policemen, single women and others whose reading of maps will be very different, one from the other.
These discoveries will inform a multimedia artwork that will comprise of historical maps, contemporary projections, official records, and personal stories of the citizens, together with a soundscape of the ‘present’ city. Her project hopes to re-assert that maps are not static, but fluid objects; that the history of map-making can also be seen as a history of interactions between map-makers and map-users where memory, materiality, sound and touch have important roles to play.
This fellowship was made possible with support from the Tata Trusts.