Samooha is an informal, interdisciplinary team of seven, including two community leaders from Sathenagar, four practicing architects and a cultural anthropologist specializing in urban studies. Drawing on ethnographic research on informal urban cultures, our project imagines the city itself as a studio – as an actor within the work of art and as an element that enables the work of art to emerge as such.
With artists from Sathenagar, Samooha have created ‘On Stage: Sathenagar Here’, a public space for a series of performances, visual and discursive events about the nature of life, work and culture in informal communities. We focus on the principles of self-reliance, self-expression and self-making as they find their way into new visions for transforming society. Within the spaces, you find a series of photographs, videos and soundscapes documenting life in Sathenagar, inviting you to reflect on what is made there. It serves as a framework for dialogue between the communities of Sathenagar, Kochi and those visiting the Biennale.
Moving beyond an emphasis on culture as an expression of self-identity and self-interest, On Stage highlights moments from forgotten histories and visions of an inclusionary society articulated by those most distant from the reins of social power. This broad sentiment is shared by all the protagonists and participants from Sathenagar, even as they are keenly aware of the injustices, inequities and systemic failures which motivate their participation in various forms of direct political action