Pilla Gudis is a project in collaboration between artists and community members in Bastar since 2000. Prior to designing Pilla Gudi structures, through our travel to various nearby villages to know the locations of schools/ Balwadis, and other meeting places, such as temples or community centers for the young and the old and meeting and interacting with the people in different villages, their response to the idea of an artwork not created for ritualistic, religious or commercial purposes became apparent. Also how could it engage the young and the old in the ‘politics of knowledge’? Interaction to an extent helped us understand the psyche of the habitants and the possible locations for the Pilla Gudi structures suggested by the villagers.
Pilla Gudis were imagined to be meeting spaces for the young, for them to interact with one another, with artists from different disciplines, from their own and neighboring villages as well as visiting / invited artists from any part of India and the world, including those possessing an oral tradition of knowledge. Such interactions encourage the young to think about different ways of knowing and modes of working, enabling them to draw nourishment and sustenance from differences and similarities - the fact that the mainstream education system in general, neutralizes cultural difference. There is little or no reference to adivasi or Dalit history and culture to which a large number of students belong. Hence, the idea of art workshops outside schools open up possibilities for students and for us to realize the fact of being ignorant of a minority culture and to investigate the manner, in which invisibility in mainstream teaching and learning process alienates the young and the adult from their own myths, realities and social struggles.
We as artists are interested in working with the young and how to create excitement and passion for exploration, perception, to feel, to develop listening and visioning, sensitivity and attentiveness to perceive appreciation of aesthetic qualities and how could aesthetic skills contribute to expression.
Workshop activities lead to dialogue, to speak and to share individual ways of knowing, ‘tacit knowing’ or observations, which then is incorporated in performance or other artistic expression by the young.
Children of all ages share the responsibility of carrying out the workshops in the three Pilla Gudis with the artists. Since community members are also involved - the complex process at times causes frictions but our attempt is to see that under no circumstance, the process of sharing overrides the right to judge. Thus, the process attempts to have emphasis on recognizing different knowledge systems, human values and respect for all life.
The three Pilla Gudis are built at Kusma village, Shilpi Gram and Kopaweda in Kondagaon, Bastar.