[en]counters 2017 | Daily Ration

Mumbai’s food culture has grown from its local and migratory history. Originally, the physical landscape of the seven islands was made up of fishing and farming villages: there was a symbiotic relationship between the local ecology and people’s livelihoods, what was grown or caught was consumed locally, and waste transformed into crafts that adorned homes.

This proximity to the land is symbolic, and the city’s food industry has emerged from it.

Even today, as Mumbai Metropolitan Region has grown to more than 20 million inhabitants, food is produced, distributed and eaten in much the same way as it must have been at its inception.

The city’s iconic foods have also evolved out of the most ordinary and daily consumed meals: this acts as a reminder of its rich multi-migratory heritage. Mumbai food culture has evolved out of the idea of the jugaad, also known as “frugal innovation” a production pattern based on improvisation and on maximizing use of available resources.

Yet, as the city has expanded into a Metropolitan Region counting more than 22 million inhabitants, the conditions which are at the base of Mumbai’s food culture have drastically changed: in a place where excessive urbanisation is projected over the next years, how much further will local producers, distributors and consumers withstand the pressure of extreme land exploitation?

Attempts to implement more holistic development models that can ensure better protection of the city’s ecology, water resources, soil & waste treatments, do exist. But the results are still to be seen.

With such a gross and continually rising population, the demands for healthy, safe living will only increase. Has the city arrived at a point of no-return or is there still space for remedy? And how do art and creativity deal and cope with these issues?

Curatorial Approach

Humans have a particular relationship to food. What we consume tells us about ourselves, where we come from, who our ancestors were, our beliefs and the knowledge we possess.

Where we access food from, why we eat it is intrinsically personal and diverse, which makes it impossible to contain individual habits and choices. Our relationship to food is what defines us culturally, socially, economically. This most basic need is what makes us human – the ability to cook, to flavour our foods, to exchange the experience of eating, sustenance and enjoyment.

[en]counters 2017 – Daily Ration invites artists to create nodes of intersection between the cultivators – deliverers – customers and to activate newer approaches to resolving everyday obstacles, using already existing ‘grassroots’ techniques aimed at a creative end.
The results of each node will be seen as a starting point towards restoring value and dignity in ‘food’ – that most vital part of our everyday lives.

The festival will revolve around three project leads:

1. Hawking @ Mumbai’s Eateries investigates into Mumbai’s street food culture, where makeshift restaurants create inventive, cheap and savoury foods, catering to the most diverse palates and cutting across social, economic barriers. This project is being organised and executed in partnership with ArtPort_Making Waves as part of ArtPort Good Food India 2017-2019.
2. Breaking Bread invites artists to examine the values related to the act of eating together by organizing a meal where people can gather, share, be nurtured and nourished. The components of each meal, the guests, duration and form will be determined by the host artist.
3. The Runners seeks to understand the complexities that form the city’s food supply chain networks, from the countryside to kirana’s shelfs, from the household kitchen to the corporate office.