By AA 2nd year Sofia-Pia Belenky (Intermediate Unit 14)
05 February 2016
Mumbai, Varanasi, Chandigarh, and New Delhi, India
the elephant has a baby inside:
The city is untraceable, no Google maps. Recounted in the following fictions, it is a city of interiors.
[caption id="attachment_5235" align="alignnone" width="360"] Photo by Sofia-Pia Belenky[/caption]
The room where the cow grazes, three rooms down from where clothing is ironed, next to where tea is boiled. Corridors with interior windows.
[caption id="attachment_5236" align="alignnone" width="360"] Photo by Sofia-Pia Belenky[/caption]
The home at the scale of the city is a series of thresholds, each with a distinct set of choreographies. The bathroom becomes the office; hours later, the kitchen.
[caption id="attachment_5237" align="alignnone" width="360"] Photo by Sofia-Pia Belenky[/caption]
The sofa-bed strategy applied to the city. When one looks out the window they see another interior window. A vendor selling souvenirs rows up to our boat: “The elephant has a baby inside.”
[caption id="attachment_5238" align="alignnone" width="360"] Inter 14 taking selfies at Elephanta Island, near Mumbai[/caption]
selfie stick architecture:
Across the river there is a desert. A strange ritual can be observed. A circular formation of 12 students, all with their arms extended to an absurd length.
[caption id="attachment_5239" align="alignnone" width="360"] Photo by tutor Simone Niquille, on the boat to Elephanta Island [/caption]
The selfie stick, gifted to us by our tutors on day one, became a prosthetic. It could take pictures at heights we couldn't view, film dangerously close to the water of the Ganges, and film street scenes from the roof of our Tuk Tuk journeys. It made our incessant photo taking as tourists heighten; now a performance, or a piece of architecture.
Varanasi has been shortlisted to become one of India's first ‘smart cities’. This being especially complicated in such an ancient city so deeply rooted in religion. The monkeys ate the Wi-Fi cables.
[caption id="attachment_5240" align="alignnone" width="360"] Photo by Sofia-Pia Belenky[/caption]
We all go through withdrawals, at night searching for signal in a dead zone. Goats wearing t-shirts lay on the city staircases. And graffiti on walls advertise websites that don't exist.
Kite flying is a game that requires multiple players. To fly any single kite at least two people must work together in one space yet multiple kites play the game from multiple locations, both near and far.
[caption id="attachment_5241" align="alignnone" width="360"] Photo by Sofia-Pia Belenky of the unit making kites[/caption]
The rooftop becomes a space for citywide communication. A projector for speaking over long distances. The communication works both through the images on the kites themselves as well as the kite: kite manoeuvres.
Through repetition thoughts became true, ballooning out, fattening, and gaining weight as they are endlessly manifested through language.
[caption id="attachment_5242" align="alignnone" width="360"] Photo by tutor Simone Niquille, New Delhi[/caption]
How many times do you have to say the same thing in order for others to believe you, to repeat it themselves, for the words to have a lasting shift on collective memory? In Varanasi this is tested at an accelerated pace as people are incessantly proclaiming histories that may or may not have happened.
[caption id="attachment_5243" align="alignnone" width="360"] Photo by Sofia-Pia Belenky[/caption]
Yet the consequences of this repetition cannot simply be dismissed by an attempt at precision or fact-finding. They sat there on that stoop, a residue of the morning's rituals, endlessly twitting the same twit.
For more information:
Intermediate 14 Extended Brief
Sofia-Pia Belenky: Projects Review 2015