Shweta Bhattad

ORA India Fellow / Madhya Pradesh, India

Project: GRAM ART PROJECT: Re-envisioning land, life, and farming through socially-engaged art by a collective of farmers, women, youth, and makers.

Shweta is the founder-member of the Gram Art Project, which is a collective of 150 farmers, artists, women, students, youth, and makers from across eight villages in the Paradsinga area. They practice agroecology on 16 acres of land while embedding socially engaged art in their daily rhythm and community life. This process of inquiry, inspiration, ideation, design, and implementation has enabled the Collective to create alternative knowledge, innovative practices, and cultures of farming and entrepreneurship. It has also enabled Shweta and her team to embed performance art that addresses the intersectional loss of agricultural and ecological biodiversity and the depletion of commons such as water bodies and forests, further layered with the growing burdens and labor and violence on women and their bodies.

I am part of a collective which is into arts, agriculture, entrepreneurship, social justice, ecologicalconservation & rejuvenation. This work is a journey, a process & difficult to fit into the conventional structure of “Goals, Input, Output, Outcome, Impact” as required by most of the support organisations. With ORA, the conversation was natural and organic. I could express myself freely & without the pressure of artificially modifying my thoughts to fit into a pre-defined structure. I am utterly thankful to the ORA team for providing the right & needed opportunity. I hope that this programme will prove the importance of this new approach of looking at works like mine & others.