Handwritten engravings of oral histories in rural Bengali.
“SHEI SHOMOYER KOTHA”
I worked on this project during my residency at the Bachhawat Foundation, in Badu, India, during last November. I wanted to find ways to record the stories of the long time residents of this area, who had witnessed many changes during their lifetime. By listening to their stories and experiences, by trying to see the surroundings through their eyes, I attempted to understand those changes, how they have affected the lives of all the inhabitants, how urbanization has directly or indirectly changed them.
A changing landscape is not only about the growth of a city. It is also about how the changes affect the local people, socially and politically.
My initial conversation was with Khuddus Ali, the gardener at the Bachhawat Foundation estate. He took me to his village, Bagberia in Barasat, where I had the chance to speak to the elders of the village, who have long life experience and remember the past. Through many interviews I recorded their stories, which they narrated and expressed in words with a lot of feelings. Though these people live far from the city of Kolkata, they inevitably become affected by the urban lifestyles through the broad reach of the media and advertisements.
Back in the studio at the residency, I engraved the handwritten texts and stories on iron plates, which I find to have a deep relation with the history of this area. Each of these iron plates is meant to reflect the individual experience of a person, captured and engraved as a historical record.
Khuddus Ali, Bagberia, Bengali
English translation of the text on the left image:
Resident's name: Khuddus Ali
"I came here in 1961. At that time there was no electricity , there were mud roads all around. In the route from Habra to Bagberia there was only one bus, the no.78. I used to earn 2 rupees a day. Now I stay in a thatched hut, and probably 70 families used stay here before. After 1970 the roads were paved with concrete. Now I can use a ‘Below Poverty Level’ card to buy food."
Prasanta Ghosh graduated from the ‘Indian College of Arts & Draftsmanship’ in Kolkata, India, and he is currently pursuing a Master of Arts. Last November he was a resident at Bachhawat Foundation, in Badu, West Bengali.
Original Engravings on Iron Plates