The Child in the City
an exploration in imaging and imagining
“In both myths and fairy tales we find ancient knowledge about the human condition – about ourselves. Myths and fairy tales are collective dreams. … Through images they tell us about the creative forces of the soul and also about the enchantments and injuries which can slow life in its course.
… In myths, such an enchantment can be an illness or an emotional flaw. It can be a knot in a person’s thread of life, great poverty, injustice or a curse by which the wells dry up and the land can bear no more fruit. …
In many stories such enchantments are brought about by an uninvited god or goddess…. In symbolic form they represent essential forces and impulses that we suppress, they are the part of ourselves that we send into exile; forces within us that want to enter into consciousness and want to be experienced and honoured as gods.
…Whenever people invite these ‘gods’, when they celebrate and honour their life forces, life can reveal itself in great diversity and fullness. …”
Friedemann Wieland, The Journey of the Hero
The world over today, even as urbanization continues to grow rapidly, we live in cities that are fundamentally unsustainable in environmental terms, and are socially and ethnically divided. Urban policy is unable to confront this challenge, and fails to rise above rhetoric and platitude. This is paradoxical since knowledge and wisdom in technology, research and public action offer transformative possibilities as never before.
What must the city be in order to enable the fulfillment of human destiny?
‘The Child in the City - an exploration in imaging and imagining’ is a photo-text-speech-song presentation, prepared by Achinto, a documentary photographer, and ramaswamy, a social activist, both based in Calcutta, India. This was prepared for the international conference on art, aesthetics and society in Calcutta in December 1997, a part of the Calcutta Metropolitan Festival of Art, organized by the arts community in West Bengal to commemorate the 50th anniversary of India’s independence. Based on a personal inner journey triggered off by the communal riots in Calcutta in December 1992 (in the aftermath of the destruction of a mosque in Ayodhya), “The Child in the City” is a meditation on cities, childhood and justice, juxtaposed with photographic images from Calcutta, one of the most environmentally degraded, poverty-ridden and communally divided metropolises.
It explores language, history, mythology, mysticism, religion, psychology, poetry and planning. An implicit journey, from a sphere dominated by discourse, professions and ideology, towards a subjectivity, of perception, feelings and being.
“The Child in the City” is a celebration of hope in humanity, as exemplified in a child’s sensibility.
"The Child in the City" has been presented at:
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bombay, March 1998
School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, November 1998
Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, January 1999
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Max Mueller Bhavan, Bombay, February 2001
Round Square conference, The Doon School, Dehradun, March 2001
International Conference on Creativity & the City, Amsterdam, September 2003
Candyland, Centre for Photography, Stockholm, November 2005