This concluding LAB was staged in the Backwaters of Kerala, South India, in November 2011 and continued our focus on site specific Labs in both Australia and the neighbouring Asian regions.
Video Documentary of ArtLab_India (Preview)
Having identified Kerala, South India as a vital component of our research we engaged in a ten-day residency in the Alappuzha district of South India in November 2011. As a socialist state government Kerala promoted education and ecological conservation in state policy before these issues were discussed among other Indian states. These policies have resulted in a state where ecological conservation is practiced and fostered from an understanding of the interconnectedness between society and the natural world. The literature suggests that this has led to improvements in the quality of life, environmental stability, social and economic equality, and consequent decline in political strife. In the backwaters of Kerala, practices such as the Athirathram ritual and Ayurvedic science offer us insight into other ways of knowing that canpotentially facilitate and inspire this interconnection in the western world. We identified these three ancient practices through a rigorous research process as we believed they would offer us critical insight into new paradigms involving a sustainable bilateral exchange between social, cultural and ecological practices in Australia and South India.
The Artlab team understands itself to be a new ‘change community’ in that we share a commonality of belief (that also respects our differences) – that we must apply our work towards envisaging an environmentally/culturally sustainable future. As a group we are therefore investigating new modes of creative thinking/action together that confront the roots of today’s ecological crisis. By naming the root of this crisis as cultural (rather than scientific) we clearly understand the problem we face as a being a ‘problem of us’. Towards that end we are seeking to develop new imaginaries that question deeply-ingrained, unsustainable ways of thinking and acting.
By conducting a series of labs in different geographical locations such as Kerala the project gave us an unparalleled opportunity to learn from other cultures whose practices are both different and potentially more sustainable than our own – and to then re-think and re-apply those sustaining knowledges to our own ‘change-politics’ activities. The discoveries made through these labs also translate into each member’s discipline/practice evolving into a methodology that is both increasingly sensitive to intangible cultural heritage and that forges new processes that seek to target the roots of our collective ecological crisis.