BANGALORE: What does a random bunch of people on any street in the city have in common? Literally, a lot of common ground, says Salon Emmer dancer Elisabeth Lengheimer, but only if they begin to claim responsibility over public land. To enhance the people's sense of ownership over their city, Ms. Lengheimer and her colleague, Tanja Dinter, have been organising a series of movement workshops and public interventions across Bangalore. Salon Emmer is a Vienna-based dance troupe that believes in art against representation.
The large-scale issue of tree felling in the city to make way for road widening, Namma Metro and other projects has caught their eye, and planned an intervention they call Rootless Rituals, in collaboration with city-based media collective Maraa, to initiate dialogue in public spaces on the issue. Their first stop was the Namma Metro site in front of the GPO, where several trees have been cut. Ms. Lengheimer, and Deepak Srinivasan from Maraa, dressed in colourful attire and a rainbow hats to match, performed the Suryanamaskar in sync. People stopped to gawk and comment. Ms. Dinter stood in a corner holding up a sheet of paper shaped like a teardrop, and asked passers-by to shed tears over what the place used to be. It makes a connection with the bemused GPO and BSNL employees and fruit sellers who clearly miss the trees and the blessed shade.
The idea is to convey to the common people that their opinions are important too, Ms. Lenheimer explained. That way, the next time they pass by here they will remember what they said, and feel they have a stake in this place too. The paradigm of their thoughts shifts from someone else to themselves. Within seconds people gathered and began a spontaneous discussion on trees, plant maintenance and climate change. . For 15 minutes, passers-by who scarce know each other argued and agreed that trees should have been planted the moment the road was widened. Check out http://katte-beingathome. blogspot.com/2010/02/ pick-map-of-shanti-nagar_23. html