Urban Porosities, by Prasad Khanolkar

The installation comprises of two incomplete maps of an imaginary city called Toba Tek Nagar. The work is inspired by Sadat Hasan Manto’s short story “Toba Tek Singh” (1955), about a lunatic’s refusal to choose between two newly partitioned territories and his desire for movement, which is possible only in the no man’s land that belongs to no one. The two maps are a montage—a constellation assembled using still images, videos, drawings, and cut-outs of google maps, which were gathered while moving through five Indian cities: Guwahati, Bangalore, New Delhi, Mumbai, and Jaipur. These different elements have been assembled here to imagine a porous city—a city that doesn’t divide, rather affords the interpenetration of different spatiotemporal elements in order to create new and unforeseen urban constellations. Toba Tek Nagar is a city of constant twilight—both night and day, sleep and awakening, and progress and dilapidation.


Prasad Khanolkar currently works an Assistant Professor at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT-Guwahati. He is also a research member of the Collective Research Initiatives Trust-Mumbai. His educational background is in architecture, planning, geography, and South Asian studies and he is primarily interested in researching and writing about cities in new ways.