Dharavi is also trying to shed its image, so often reinforced by depictions in media and films such as Slumdog Millionaire, as a downtrodden slum. The second edition of the ambitious Dharavi Biennale is catalyzing such efforts through art, design, and performance.
Organized by the Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action, and running through March 7*, the Dharavi Biennale is largely driven by engagement with locals. Organizers are trying to buck the trend of many biennials around the world that largely ignore connections to surrounding communities. Architects Prakriti Shukla and Venkat Ashok, who constructed furniture for their installation by salvaging or “upcycling” found materials, worked with Dharavi craftsmen for over a month leading up to its opening on February 15.
“We were always interested and amazed in the way Dharavi functions as a unit. It’s a self-sufficient community,” says Ashok. “We interacted with Dharavi in terms of trying to reconstruct, rebuild, and better understand the situation that is Dharavi.”