THE FOREST DOES NOT EMPLOY ME ANY MORE

Lantana Camara is one of the great threats to wildlife and farming across India. Brought from America to Europe by the Dutch, and then transferred to India by the East India Company, the plant serves as an ornamental hedge and butterfly-attractor. Lantana arrived at the Calcutta Botanical Garden in 1807, and today occupies more than 13 million hectares in India alone. The plant has impacted coffee plantations in Coorg, threatened forests around Mysore and Madras, and has rendered the subsistence foraging of many scheduled tribes inadequate. The equivalent of millions of pounds have been spent unsuccessfully to eradicate the plant, but the methods for doing so are expensive and inefficient. As an alternative strategy, some of the tribal communities affected by Lantana’s devastation have begun making furniture from its branches to put it to use and control its spread.The Soligas are an indigenous people living in the Malé Mahadeshwara Reserve Forest (MM Hills) of Karnataka. Dependent on foraged forest produce, subsistence and bamboo crafts, they have been severely marginalised by the 1980 Forest Conservation Act, which prevented them from using the resources they had relied on for centuries. In a new workshop in the MM Hills, the Soligas now produce Lantana furniture using traditional bamboo craft techniques. The Forest Does Not Employ Me Any More is a new collaboration between the Lantana Crafts Centre at MM Hills, Forager Collective and Cooking Sections. The project is set to develop new pieces that take advantage of the flexibility and durability of Lantana to improve material understanding and develop new pieces that better match the pliability of the material.

The project was part of the Empire Remains Shop, curated by Cooking Sections.

Empire Shops were first developed in London in the 1920s to teach the British how to consume foodstuffs from the colonies and overseas territories. Although none of the stores ever opened, they intended to make foods such as sultanas from Australia, oranges from Palestine, cloves from Zanzibar, and rum from Jamaica available and familiar in the British Isles.

The Empire Remains Shop speculates on the possibility and implications of selling back the remains of the British Empire in London today. A public installation by London-based duo Cooking Sections, it hosts a critical programme of discussions, performances, dinners, installations and screenings.

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THE FOREST DOES NOT EMPLOY ME ANY MORE

FORM 3 FROM FORM 2 : MADRID, SPAIN, 2015

Form 3 from Form 2 continues with Forager Collective’s preoccupation with space and forms.

In the process of constructing, forming or building something, tangible or otherwise, there is a constant compromise of ideas. In the spaces – and in its many definitions – that result, there is thus a compromise that prevails.

Space – lived, perceived or imagined – is, in many ways, constantly being formed and unformed, built and built.

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Form 2 from Form 1: New Delhi, India, 2015

Form 2 from Form 1, an installation, accompanied by reading of a text developed by Forager Collective, performed by Meenakshi Thirukode.

 

In the process of building something, anything, there is an element of displacement. With the removal of sand, rock, mud or some other material from one place, there is a construction of a vacuum, even as a form of some sort is created in another place. Weight is depleted from one place and added elsewhere. Thus there is constant shifting of vacuum, mass, form, weight, thoughts, etc., at the same time constructing a void in the place it used to be.

This placement itself is a construction of a form. Sand bags are ubiquitous, familiar fixtures in all spaces that are being constructed, personal, public, urban or otherwise. We do not seek to change the object, but in the process of sand being packaged so, we recognize the displacement that is being created, from the river bed, into the sack. Likewise, when the bags are transported elsewhere and moved, there again is a construction of a form, in what is removed and what is left behind. The space and its meanings in architecture are constantly shifting. When something is removed, there is a building of something else elsewhere and the building of something where the displacement occurs. This building and building continues in the stacking, storing, transporting and use of sand bags.

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Form 2 from Form 1: New Delhi, India, 2015

Same Differences, Kampala, 2015

In March and April 2015, Forager Collective’s Sunoj D spent a month as an artist-in- residence in Kampala, Uganda. Apart from pursuing his own project there, he presented, as part of the Collective, a series of soirees at 32º East | Ugandan Arts Trust, Kampala called Same Differences.

It was conceived as evenings where there would be readings, songs from the kitchen, documentary screenings, exchange of stories, etc., followed by a dinner of Indian food. The main dish was always a vegetable that was widely used in both Indian (cuisine from the southern state of Kerala, in these cases) and African kitchens, albeit in wholly different ways. For instance, by making jackfruit curry with coconut for a people that only ate it as a ripened fruit, and with other vegetables and roots, Forager Collective highlighted the differences, yet the underlying similarities between the two cultures.

The hugely successful soirees brought diverse groups of people together each time and led to many impromptu sharing of songs and stories about food from folklore and old memories.

Below is an assortment of photos from each of the six such soirees that were organized over a period of seven weeks.

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In Same Differences 01, Forager Collective collaborated with Ugandan poet and performer Ife Piankhi who read a piece by Editor Deepa Bhasthi, called ‘Boiling Coffee, Burning Beirut’, from The Forager‘s first issue.

Same Differences, Kampala, 2015

Table of Contents: Genesis, Kochi-Muziris Biennale, 2014-15

Forager Collective at The Knowledge Project, Kochi-Muziris Biennale Collaterals, Jew Town, Fort Kochi

13.12.2014 to 12.02.2015

Table of Contents: Genesis

Used wooden table, recycled paper, colour pencils, 2014

The relationship between money and agricultural activities is a complicated one. The transposition of farming symbols from currency notes and coins on to the table explores the influence of money in food structures and farming practices, a connection that is deeply pervasive and always visible, but scantily acknowledged.

Viewers are encouraged to take an impression of the carvings and take back, on pieces of paper, images that are faintly familiar yet not something that can be immediately placed.001

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Table of Contents: Genesis, Kochi-Muziris Biennale, 2014-15