An Op-Ed by Rahul and Matias for the Mobile Lives Forum:
For the past 5 years, urbz has been following families who's lives are spread between Mumbai and their ancestral villages in the Konkan (Western India).
Supported by the Mobile Lives Forum in Paris, our study attempts to reframe the idea of belonging in a way in which the village and the city become part of a simultaneous spatial logic and not as something that involves a sense of the past (rural) and the present (urban). They are both part of a dynamic present, defined by the lives of many types of people and generations.
Millions of Indians live away from their ancestral regions, but nonetheless remain connected to their familial villages. The mass exodus from rural India does not simply end in hyper-dense urban centres. It loops back to villages which are transforming as rapidly as cities.
An immense number of families from Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore or Chennai maintain two homes – a small crowded one in the city, as well as the one they invest in, back in the village. The Indian village does not belong to the past as much as it does to the future – a future that is resolutely urban, networked and circulatory. In which the railway plays a crucial role in helping city dwellers maintain active links with their places of origin.
For many Mumbaikars, home is here and there, stretched between two inescapable and complementary polarities. The exhibition depicts the circulatory journey of urban families between their neighbourhoods in Mumbai and their villages in the Konkan. It also reimagines the relationship between the urban and the rural and invites Mumbaikars to write their own circle of connections into the story.
We have written extensively on the topic in various journals and magazines, including ETH/Ruby Press's Empower!; The Guardian; The Hindu; and Uncube. We have also produced exhibition exploring this theme at the Bhau Daji Lad City Museum in Mumbai, the Center for Contemporary Art in Bordeaux (as part of Arc en Rêve's Constellation.s exhibition), and at the Art Center of the International School of Geneva.