Labour: Through the lens of the arts

A three-week country-wide lockdown was announced with a notice of four hours on March 24, 2020. We watched in horror as millions of labourers along with their families, carrying children, belongings and pets, walked thousands of kilometres, to return to their homes to villages and towns far away from urban centres. Abandoned amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and driven out of the very cities they built, these stories laid bare the reality of the precarious lives that labourers have always had, and forced us to take our blindfolds off.

Holding these thoughts together, India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) presents a montage video featuring four arts projects from The IFA Archive which explore the identities, relationships, movements and conditions of labour in India. These projects, born over the years, enable us to reflect on the underlying concerns around labour that have always been part of our invisible histories.

Courtesy: Artists, Scholars and IFA

Jayakrishnan Subramanian:
Music: From the film ‘Palai—Landscapes of Longing’
Composed and sung by Vedanth Bharadwaj and Bindhumalini Narayanaswamy

Ekta Mittal:
Music: From a performance by Tasvi as part of the project ‘BEVARU / SWEAT: Labour Records’

Anushka Meenakshi, Iswar Srikumar:
Music: From the film ‘Kho ki pa lü / Up Down & Sideways’

Priya Sen:
Archives and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology of the American Institute of Indian Studies (ARCE), Gurgaon
Shubha Chaudhuri, Director, ARCE
Music: From the ‘Diaspora’ collections at ARCE, specifically the collections of Indian music from Trinidad and Mauritius, recorded by Helen Myers, Laxmi G Tiwari and Prittiviraj Jayaram collections, selected for the exhibition ‘Seevbalak’s Echo Chamber’

The Fellowship to Priya Sen was made possible with support from the Tata Trusts.