Art, Health, and the City!

13 February 2015 05:00PM

Contemporary art lives largely in galleries and museums, so we are told. Dharavi Biennale 2015, also known as The Alley Galli Biennale, proposes something different. This exhibition in Dharavi, Mumbai, has been in development for two years. It has been organized by SNEHA (Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action), an NGO working to improve the health of women and children in Mumbai’s informal settlements, with support from Wellcome Trust, UK. Under the four themes of art, health, recycling, and vitality, the Biennale uses art to think about urban health in fresh and exciting ways.

Each of the Biennale-commissioned projects was developed by people from Dharavi collaborating with a mentor artist. This Friday Funda showcases one such collaboration called Dharavi Food Project, which focuses on food, women’s labour, and the hunger for art.

Dr Nayreen Daruwalla (Co-Director of Alley Galli Biennale) and Professor David Osrin (Co-Director of Alley Galli Biennale) introduced the Biennale and described to the audience how this event has helped open up discussions about urban health through art practices. In addition, Dr Prajna Desai talked about her role as Mentor-Artist for Dharavi Food Project and its culmination in a cookbook-cum-polemic about the relationship between food as art and the visibility of women as aesthetic producers and creators. The book, The Indecisive Chicken, will be published in-house by Dharavi Biennale and is scheduled for release in April-May, 2015. This event is in association with SNEHA. 

About the Speakers

Dr Nayreen Daruwalla is a psychologist and activist who heads the program on prevention of violence against women and children at SNEHA. Based in Dharavi, the programme provides a range of support services for survivors of violence and has a large community component. She is co-director of Dharavi Biennale.
Prof David Osrin is a paediatrician and public health scientist whose work focuses on urban health. He is particularly interested in evaluating programmes that work with communities to improve their own health, and also in public engagement with health science. He is co-director of Dharavi Biennale.
Dr Prajna Desai is a writer and art historian trained in Pre-Columbian art. Though she currently focuses on contemporary art and its politics, she is also interested in exploring practices that expand and democratize the definition of art. Her work has been published in frieze, Art in America, Aperture, and