Proposal for a common space for creative people
project by Pratul Kumar Dash


Aim & Objective
I would like to create a site in the place called Orissa in south-east India where creative people of various disciplines will have the opportunity to have a positive effect on the local social, environmental, economic and political conditions. Participants will be people who are interested in the development of social situations to work with issues in a practical and philosophical way.

I believe the combined creative energy and effort of artists, engineers, hydrologists, agriculturists, economists, writers, or film makers have the ability to shape situations in a better way. For example, I would like to share my personal experience; last year I had the opportunity to work with a craftsman in place called Sonepur in the Sambalpur district. In this place, many craftsmen families have lived generation to generation since the 13th century. Now, because of competition from larger industrial markets and lack of interest from the government to support them, many families are discontinuing their ages old craft tradition. So, during my stay with this craftsman we developed some products within the framework of his ancient terracotta and papermache methods. We designed an ashtray, a flower pot and a unique foldable table. In 2004, when I last went to see him, he had developed several others objects on his own and he had found new ways to use his masterly skill. In this way he manages to generate enough money with his traditional craft. This is just one example. There are infinite opportunities for educated agriculturists or hydrologists to make huge differences in the productivity and environmental awareness of local farmers.

Here I would like to share another experience; in january 2004 I got invitation for a group show in New Delhi, so this time I planned to work with a master storyteller, then I made my drawing get ready and try to find for a master tailor who can help me to devlope my work ,but I never realised before that it is became so difficult to find some one a master tailor these days in this new, multinational dominated market . Stil I can remember five years back it was quite easy to find a tailor for stitching the clothes but any way after a long search I found a tailorshop called NEW BOMBAY TAILOR without many customers. Raghu is the name of the owner he is hole and sole of the shop, age hardly 18 years or less, he is 10th class pass , his father died in 2001, automatically he became the master of the family, he is living with his mother and a young sister, paharganj situated opposite to the New Delhi railway station one of the most crowded & business dominated areas of the town, with lots of foreign visitors. After seeing my drawing & a brief discussion Raghu agreed to work for me , this particular work is all about embroidry on top of a white shirt, so i gave my drawing for the excution then he gave me 5 days of time. I went to him after 5days to collect the shirt. When i saw the embroidry it is realy a splendid work from a young boy. This time he is more friendly with me and eager to become a friend of mine. Again after two months when I went to him for another work I saw some t-shirt hanging on the wall with good embroidery,in this last two months he developed this t- shirt and found some foreign buyer who buys things from him on regular basis.

Realistically, to create this kind of space, one needs to have a substantial budget and financial support. Although I have yet to confirm external financial support to develop the project; in February of 2004 my collaborator Gada Dhara and I purchased, with private funds, a two acre parcel of land in between the Puri and Konark. We hope that this will be the future site.

At this stage, three people are working on this project. We believe that small is beautiful and big is disasterous, so we are not imagining something large, but instead, a project that is focused and proceeds in a practical way. This project is something that I have been considering and trying to give shape over the past six years. In those past years I have collected lots of books related to many different fields and also more than 150 traditional objects from different parts of India.

For the development of this project, from time to time, I have been talking and discussing with sensitive and socially responsible people like artists, musicians, writers, filmakers, economists, psychiatrists, architects, engineers, lawyers etc... to understand the different aspects, possibilities of the future of this project and trying to find out new ways.

I am now seeking your kind help; you can help me with your kind suggestions and ideas: these are valuable to me as any other resourses. If you care enough about the situation of the place, want to change it, to do something, you can, whatever possible, within your own life and world, you can help this project with contributing some old / new; but usefull books and other means.

If you buy one of my works, you contribute towards this project.

Priority areas

To provide a forum for a creative and critical dialogue through performances, multimedia projections, conferences, seminars and workshops between and amongst the diverse arts, traditional and contemporary.

To foster dialogue between arts and current ideas in philosophy, sciences and technology, with a view towards bridging in intellectual understanding between modern sciences and culture.

To promote and establish sustainable links between local art institutions, organisations and international institutions.

To establish sustainable relations between local farmers and international researchers.

To strengthen scientific and economical situations in the region.

To encourage the local craftspeople with workshops/collaborations between artists and designers.

First stage of the work
Plantation of trees in land, particularly coconut and beside this, I would like to plant these five trees which are most significant in Indian civilization:
Asvattha, Nyagrodha, Ashoka, Arjuna and Kadamba.

The Asvattha (Ficus Religiosa), popularly known as the Bodhi tree, symbolize enlightenment after a period of introspection; the constant quest of delving into the self and human consiousness for future enlightenment, is the first principle of the center. It is the conceptual pillar.

The Nyagrodha (Ficsus Bengalensis), a tree which grows to large proportion, the basis of the metaphycal metaphor of the upside down tree with branches which roots and roots which grow as branches. This interplay of the past and present, rejuvenation and renewal, allowing within periohery of a circle with a still center.

The Ashoka (Saraca Indica), an ancient tree from which the name of the great emperor Ashoka was derived, means, without grief. The tree and the name have provided some of the most fundamental motifs to indian art. Representing fertility, it pervades the classical and medieval arts. It is as importent in the biological sciences as the metaphysics and the artisic tradition. The tree symbolises the interdisciplinary approch.

The Arjuna(TermiThenalia), the tree represents clarity and purity, erectness and direction. Intellectual rigor, incisiveness and integrity.

The Kadamba (Anthocephallus), the fragrant flower tree representing joy, mirth, play, dance and music. The creativity with bliss and joy.

Facilities and function (in future)
Building (with locally available material), including media center, a library, common work space for the residents, living rooms, openair theater, garden, ecologically balanced.

Economical and educational background of the state
According to the recent economical survey by the Indian government, the Orissa is at the bottom in the list in average income and education levels. The major local industries are state and government jobs, agriculture, business, and artisan work. There are also other resources which have the possibility of providing sources of income such as the forest, minerals and tourism. Despite all the opportunities, 70% of the population is dependent on agriculture. The great tourism potential of the area has been wasted because of a lack of strategy. The education rate is almost 47% or less according to WHO 2003 survey. We have four universities situated throughout the state. One of them is a cultural university founded in 2002 that does not have a functioning infrastructure and is without qualified teachers. We have four engineering colleges, three medical colleges and five art colleges of varying sizes. One of the art colleges is almost 45 years old and running “well” without a library, without qualified teachers, without much at all - only the innocent students who are suffering because they don't have any other choice. The situation is very similar in one of the other art colleges in Bhubaneswar, founded in 1985, where I studied from 1990 to 1995.

Geographical and historical background
Orissa is situated in the South-east part of India and lies on the coast along the Bay of Bengal. Bhubaneswar is the modern capital of Orissa and, as the temple metropolis of India, it boasts of 600 temples. From Bhubaneswar, Puri is 55 km and Konark is 65 km towards the south. The Orissa School of Architecture flourished from the 7th to the 13th century A.D. The most important monuments of this period can be seen in and around Bhubaneswar, Puri, and Konark. In fact, the entire length and breadth of the state is dotted with 4,000 monuments and archaeological sites, including early Jaina caves and temples, Buddhist and Hindu temples, Chaityas , Stupas and monuments, etc...

Pratul Dash

Developed at Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto, 2004

Contacts: -

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