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
If you buy one of my works, you contribute towards this project.
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
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...
Developed at Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto, 2004