In the summer of 2016, Deepa Bhasthi, one of the founding members of the Forager Collective, participated in a three month long residency on behalf of the Collective at Delfina Foundation, London under their Politics of Food programme. The project Manufacturing Purana has developed into an ongoing longer term one, and is expected to produce a long form essay, apart from other outcomes in the coming months.
The residency was supported by Charles Wallace India Trust and Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation.
A note on the project from a mini issue of The Forager magazine that was being updated during the residency:
The very initial idea sprung from recollecting an old book read a decade and a half ago. But that the recollection happened on a road trip to somewhere is a story for elsewhere, not here.
Myths are all around us. In a book written half a century ago, myth is called a language. Barthes is of course as right today as he was in the 1950s. Myth is what sells everything from shampoo to the bowl of berries that makes a snack on a summer day.
If something is organic, handmade, handcrafted, cruelty free, ethically sourced, fair trade, free range and sustainable – sometimes all at the same time – isn’t it a myth that you are buying? Being the sort of person who buys all of the above, even if such a thing has travelled halfway across the world and is laden with immense embodied energy, and thus, excess carbon footprint, is a lifestyle you buy into. Lifestyle itself is a myth that is perpetuated in the pursuit of pure consumerism.
All hail the manufacturing of consent!
Manufacturing Purana is a three-month long project where I try to look into the many myths I consume and encounter during this period, from news – prosaic or breaking – to food to things, objects, products that serve the omnipresent gods of the modern markets. In this miniscule cross section of things and ideas, the mirror is upon events and things and histories everywhere in the world. A “farmer’s market” in India is not too different from the “farmer’s market” in London.
The quote marks are deliberate.
Incidentally, this is the 25th year anniversary of India’s shining new liberalization policy, almost to the date. In the 1990s, there was a utopia that was just on the other side of laissez-faire. These many years later, that is clearly not the case. All too clearly.
There is no utopia. There never was.
Yet, we buy it, all these ideas and isms and lifestyles. We never stop buying. At some point we buy only the idea, and the product becomes irrelevant. The idea is what shapes the markets and our reactions to it and its reactions to what we want to see, and so on.
This idea is the purana, an old Sanskrit word that means a myth, oral, written or both.
Let’s make up some stories now.