Oonch-Neech

A project that employs storytelling as an agency to communicate the post colonial scenario of India’s Rug making world. Showcased as the opening performance at the AA School of Architecture Summer School exhibition, it has translated into a project that is very close to my heart.

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This story is set inside a dyeing pot in post-colonial India. It captures a brief conversation between Afshar Kohi- an imperfect rug and Oonch-Neech- a fruit, the element it assumes is the reason for its imperfection.

 

The story is performed through poetry, film and models. Written in English assisted with phrases from the local dialect the multilingual poem, sets the scene of a 1990 Varanasi Ghat, the epicentre of rug making in India. As for the model and the film, they are glimpses into spaces in which the rug is made. The film is inside the oochneech dying pot, and the model is the space where the rug comes in contact with the dye that colours it.

 

The conversation captures a microcosm of the impact of colonialism and industrialisation on crafts like rug-making across the Indian landscape. It was inspired by a local legend of 132 rugs that were classified as “imperfect” or unnees-bees (19/20) by buying agents for the international consumerist brands in 1990.

 

The story also sheds light on the nature of communities involved in the process of rug making and the negligence they face due to the organic nature of the craft they resort to.

 

The performance raises questions about the violence perpetrated by colonial-led industrialisation and the associated ruptures it creates in historic societal, cultural and economic ways of being through homogenisation.

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Above is the process of motif construction for oonch neech inspired from the elements of the landscape drawing- The Weaver's House and the poetry like: Paddle men washing; the rising mist, The rug hung on a wooden stand, The dyeing process of wool and the early morning sky. Translated in a block, the motif will work as a repetitive pattern in 10dpi. 

On the left is a scale down model of the walk-in performative experience capturing the inaccurate ways in which natural materials react to and absorb dyes. It is designed to transport the onlooker into the dyeing pot with a background score of the dyeing process and natural sounds of water droplets. In its further stages, this space will host a floor of a shallow pool with real fruit in it which viewers will walk on. In the process they will saturate the colour in the water as they squish the fruit. The yarn that features the imperfection or "oonch neech" is dipped in the pool and absorbing the colour in its own unique manner, presenting the conversation to the viewers.

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