Fishing: In the Sea of Greed
India 1998, video, 45 min, Hindi, Telugu, English subtitles
From South India to Bangladesh, Fishing: In the Sea of Greed traces a choreography of struggle against industrial scale fishing and intensive shrimp cultivation. It follows coastal fishing communities as they gather to make their presence felt on Bombay's streets. Patwardhan painstakingly documents the efforts of organisers from the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) to co-ordinate fisherpeople from Bombay, Madras, Visakhapattnam and Bangalore in a successful national campaign to blockade foreign factory ships from entering India’s harbours. Through interviews and a muted television advert of a white family enjoying prawns that lasts as long as it takes to blink, Fishing: In the Sea of Greed carefully reconstructs the infrastructure of global export. In the jubilant epilogue, fisherwomen and children march, sing and dance in the streets and beaches of Mumbai with fish workers from South Africa, Pakistan, Argentina, Norway, Senegal and other countries on 21 November 1997: World Fisheries Day, a holiday from all fishing, landing and selling.
A Narmada Diary
India 1995, video, 57 min, Hindi, Gujurati, English subtitles
The opening and closing ‘entries’ in the Diary are symmetrical; official government documentary footage extolling the irresistible benefits of a hydro-engineered and electrified rural future (‘Speed and Technology’) is counterposed to images of the seemingly timeless harvest festival of Holi, celebrated in March 1994 at the village of Domkheri, threatened with imminent submergence by the rising headwaters of the dam. Linear, progressive, industrial time confronts cyclical, ritual, agrarian time. But in their closing reprise of the traditional ceremony, Patwardhan and co-director Simantini Dhuru let us see what we can now more fully understand: the body-painted, head-dressed adivasi dancers confront and burn their demons, singling out the newest, greatest malignity of all, the Sardar Sarovar dam itself. Their ritual dance is a configuration of actuality, of living collective experience, open to history. Resistance has been integrated, innovatively, into the everyday activity, language and rites of the people of this region – overwhelmingly adivasis, long scorned as ‘tribals’, are descendants of the pre Aryan, aboriginal inhabitants of India.
See Alex Napier, The Camera of Resistance, PIX 2, January 1997, accessed 21 May 2013. PIX 2 Edited Designed Published by Ilona Halberstadt Distributed by Central Books www.pixpublishing.net
TJ Demos is Reader in the Department of Art History at University College, London. He is author of The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary during Global Crisis 2013, Return to the Postcolony: Specters of Colonialism in Contemporary Art 2013 and guest editor of Third Text 120, 2013, on ‘Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology.’
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