abr, named after the Urdu word for cloud, is an alliance of cultural practitioners coming together over shared vulnerabilities, to create a circle of care, communality, and conviviality in these uncertain and difficult times. As we register the detrimental fallout from the Covid-19 crisis within our proximate circles and beyond, it feels vital to find ways to come together, to witness these critical times, to link our homes, our solitudes, our labours, and most importantly to have each other’s backs. As a response, abr has created a network of support by commissioning short performances or digital works from artists and performers who have recently seen a shrinkage in opportunities for commissions, collaboration, feedback and presentation.
Dharmendra Prasad’s “Biography of a Field”
Dharmendra Prasad @unhorizoning unsteadies the anthropocentric scope of biography-making by delving into the psyche of a field. The artist excavates his ongoing conversation with the ecosystems around his current abode in Bihar to narrate a biography that generously holds abundant multiplicities. Seen foremost is the simultaneous occupation of present and infinite time, in the choreography of sprouting crops sharing space with residue of past and future harvests; the artist skilfully makes space for potent contradictions, of lifespans that last an afternoon with the unending cycle of seasons, of hope in cohabitation juxtaposed with the memory of rivers of blood. Deploying visual metaphors ranging from the primordial oceans to the thinking man, Prasad touches upon the universal nature of germination, while pointedly linking the emotional tenor of the field to those who know it best, those oppressed by caste and class who toil on it year after year, deeply understanding the knowledges the land has to share. The two are linked further in fear of a bleak future crushed by the majority’s blind march towards development, both kindling hope for the coming of the revolution.
Aru's "The Millet Kitchen"
“What is the best way to eat for the planet?”, this is the question that prompted Aru @arubhartiya to begin a journey that birthed The Millet Kitchen @themilletkitchen and led her into a journey of understanding these ancient grains. As Aru elucidates, millets have been indigenous to our regions for millennia, but have been erased from farming and dietary practices through the neo-imperialist agenda of the green revolution and the push towards water-consuming varieties of wheat and rice. While demonstrating some easy ways to prepare millets and include them in our meals, Aru stresses on the important of sourcing all grains and produce through ethical means, relying on small farmers from adivasi and marginalised backgrounds, highlighting the role of affirmative action to mitigate inequalities as a pertinent responsibility within the climate crisis. For more recipes head over to @themilletkitchen
Sabika Abbas "Ummeed Pe Duniya Qayam Hai"
Confronting the atrocities of the Hindu nationalist state, Sabika Abbas @boltiaurat tenderly caresses the idea of hope. The poet extends the organic metaphor running through the exhibition ‘Seeds are Being Sown’ to conjure the imagery of two saplings growing inside her chest. One is the sprouting of hope, and the other of hopelessness. Constantly barraged with news of unconstitutional laws, unjust investigations, and unlawful arrests, the practice of hope is almost elusive in these days. However, the poet perseveres, watering her seedling of hope as necessary labour. Hope must be foraged in moments of grief, of loss, of cleaning the street after a spell of violence. While this is not easy, she reminds us that artists, poets, writers, and other creative agents must bear this burden more now than ever. She leaves us with the sweet imagery of that morning, when the green veil of hope gathers energy to climb through her rib cage, caressing her neck, and comes into her ear to softly whisper ‘Inshallah’.