Allied Studies, Rupali Gupte

Bricoleurs and Bricoleuses

“I am learning to see. I don’t know what it’s about, but everything is registering in me at a deeper level and doesn’t stop where it used to. There is a place within me that I wasn’t aware of What’s going on there I don’t know”

declares Rainer Maria Rilke in the Notebooks of Malte Laurid’s Rigge.

In the course of this module, 18 people, like Rilke, started learning to see. They mined through works of art, architecture and films to look at Bricoleurs and their practices, looking closely at the aesthetics, mechanics, politics and spatiality of the practice and the biography of the bricoleur. The questions the group grappled with were , “How do you live like a Bricoleur? How do you make life beautiful?”

As bricoleurs themselves, the group went on derives through the city, identifying other bricoleurs and looking closely at their practices, forms of inhabitation and the biographies of the bricoleurs, maintaining bricoleur’s diaries in the process.  The diaries became their companions, and references to their own practices through the course, through a process of collecting, accruing, morphing, editing, reworking their engagements with this source material.

In the last two weeks their practices came together in the form of an exquisite corpse in the making of a garden in the school, through five tropes the homely and unhomely (through the works of Aditi, Ananya, Devrrat, Prajwal, Eesha, Neel, library of strange books (Tanuja, Radhika), ghostly feast table (Avi, Krisha, Neha, Vijay, Vivek, Kaumudi, Sanjeeta, Smit) and body as inhabitation (Hansika, Jinal)

Aditi, Ananya and Devrrat, with their house with no walls explored the transgression of private and public realms by blurring the boundaries between inside and outside, intimate and distant, individual and collective. Neel’s silent wind chime, made of soft fabric, uncannily swayed in the breeze just outside the bounded frame of the ghost house, suggesting a further removal from a sense of belonging. In doing so it referenced Claes Oldenburg’s soft sculptures that made us rethink material relationships as they were transformed from hard to soft, turning supple, limp and subject to the vagaries of chance. Prajwal took on the task of teaching himself to love the city. He went on endless derives, traveling with singing troupes on trains, sleeping under dripping clothes lines in dhobhi ghat, walking through the inner city, sitting by the sea, making friends with strangers. He brought his experience to the installation in the form of a ghostly clothes-line that formed the roof of the wall-less house. Eesha worked closely with Prajwal. Through her practice, Eesha had collected texts by several writers on reimagining the home. She made a concrete bed and a pillow that occupied the central space in the ghost house, from where she narrated the stories. Tanuja worked with her childhood memory of a book-man, who visited her house with a suitcase and periodically brought her books to read in sets of eight.. She and Radhika went on derives together through the city, to find several pieces of furniture put together as bricolages of found materials.

Arjun Appadurai’s text, ‘the social life of objects’ became a companion to their works, as they traced the various networks and biographies of these objects and their makers. They made the library of strange books as an extension to the ghost house. Smit’s practice involved derives through the city, exploring its food and the spaces and relationships it produced. He would bring back the dishes to be shared by the class. On the final day Smit made an alternate map of Mumbai by bringing 14 dishes from sites he had encountered on his derives. Avi designed a ghost table for the feast, an ephemeral wire frame structure with a mesh table top. The ghost table in many ways refers to the many difficult relationships we have with food, its multiple cultural associations, social privileges and  segregations. On the table, along with the food were the accouterments of a feast. Vijay had spent his time learning the art of crafting leather from his grandfather who was originally a shoe-maker, but had eventually taken up a job in the police force. Vijay made leather utensils for the table, pointing to the insidious politics around practices of food. Sanjeeta made an associational game from her derives in Mulund, which accompanied the feast as an act of transgression where play intersected the space of what could have been a familial dinner table.

The table was accompanied by a panoply of chairs. One chair was made by Neha which became the portrait of her grandfather, a pattern maker in the textile business in Mumbai, through whom she started reading the city. Another chair was made by Kaumudi through her practice of crochet as she made a delicately woven garden. Yet another was made by Vivek, who had worked on his anxieties of endings by continuously watching films that he liked but never ending them. The chair that he designed had the proportions of a standard chair surfaced with reflective mirrors that continuously refracted the garden around, producing an endless space for its inhabitants. Krisha spent her time acquainting herself with poems of the everyday, of intimacies of bodies and practices. She designed a chair through her engagement with the act of weaving as an intimate occupation of everyday time. Avi added two more chairs to this assemblage, from his childlike wireframe drawings of tables and chairs, reclaiming the wondrous world that children occupy as bricoleurs. Jinal and Hansika worked with ideas of the body as inhabitation. Jinal brought together her practice of repairing footwear and growing plants to make gardens that could be carried around and worn as accessories. Hansika, worked with her practice of repairing clothes, at the same time challenging the disciplining of her body through her family’s expectations of how she should dress. Hansika occupied the space of the garden in a dress she had pieced together from clothes she had collected from her friends, challenging gender norms and the politics of identity.
Jinal Trivedi
Kaumudi Karwande

Eesha Pethe
Neha Dalvi
Tanuja Vartak
Hansika Nagrare