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As i was near the Pao market in Mapusa, this sound suddenly became apparent to me and i was attracted to it, it is the sound that the sugarcane juicer makes, these machines run all day and the sound is the result of a bell attached to the fly wheel. I liked how continuously and steadily it rang and gave the space a rhythm, a sound and because of its constant ringing, it becomes  somewhat invisible. But it is very much there and it plays day in, day out. I had of course, heard this sound before, in fact these sugarcane machines use a bell all over India, as a looping audio advertisement for sugarcane juice. Only this time, perhaps, it was because i was on the look out for a starting point, that it resulted in me making these films.

There are 8 of these machines spread across the market and they are beautiful things, most of them run with all the gears and cogs exposed, due to a lack of health and safety standards in India. But it is because of this exposed machinery that they have an industrial era charm to them, and this coupled with a continuous spinning and ringing makes the apparatus reminiscent of clock work.

8 sugarcane juice shops spread across Mapusa Market, Goa

Here are the 3 films I screened in Mapusa Market, Goa on the 31st of January 2014. I request you to watch these full screen on Youtube as the plug in does not allow full screen and ideally at 720P HD quality.

Simultaneous

This film is an illustration of this idea of simultaneity, the idea that everything is bound by the single thread of time and all that happens along it, happens all at once. This idea becomes more apparent in a bustling market place like Mapusa Market, as there is a lot of activity happening in a rather condensed space.

To illustrate this abstract idea, I have layered the sound of each machine to gradually build up to a cacophonous crescendo. It is an imaginary juxtaposition, this collective sound would only be heard if all of the machines were together at one place, which in reality would never happen. But although far apart, it is true that these sounds coincide everyday around 9:00 am till about 7:00 pm. It is just that they lie spread out and we can’t actually hear them all at once, this film makes that happen.

 

Silhouettes/clockwork

The shots used in this film are all from the perspective of the shop or the juicer himself, the camera sees a rather pretty looking silhouette of the machine, the camera cannot see light and dark together, it only wants to focus on either light or dark. This worked for me as it created a beautiful shot. It does not look as impressive with the naked eye. Here again, the clockwork like movement and ticking/tinkling of the bell, gives the film a temporal feel. The world outside seems to continue relentlessly, with apathy and without regard, just as time does, this relentlessness may also refer to the nature of the market, apart from it being a vibrant cultural space, it is also an intense battleground of trade and commerce.

 

Sum of many parts

The idea for this film, started as a spontaneous sketch as i was editing the other two films. I thought well, I can construct a fictitious machine, by individually showing the various revolving parts from different machines. This film is an audio-visual unification of all the 8 machines into one imaginary machine.

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On the 31st of January ’14, I screened these films in Mapusa market, it was quite an experience. Because, I was showing a kind of art film, people there may or may not see it as art. Expectedly, everyone asked me, what is the point of this? I explained, well I found this machine and its ringing attractive so i decided to make a short film, it is also kind of a study of just this machine and its movement. Some people weren’t amused so I added, I see this film as part of a process and an instrument to have a conversation with you, so in a way the point of the film is to create an interaction. Some folks seemed to appreciate this but a man I spoke to in the end wasn’t satisfied. Eventually, with some desperation it occurred to me and I resorted to saying well why is there a wheel in the national flag, to justify this film by adding a popular reference and therefore a dimension of purpose. This somewhat quelled his curiosity, although I cannot be certain, perhaps he had enough of me.

I screened these films back to back for nearly 2 hours and 15 minutes, starting at 6:00 pm on till 8:15 pm and amazingly, at any given point, there were 6-7 people watching the films at the minimum and at some other points, a good 15-20 people watching it. A lot of people watched it and didn’t ask any questions. I can only wonder what went through their minds.

Unfortunately, I must say the star of the show was, the Dell P-65 LED mini projector. The first time I saw it, I was amazed at how small it was. So it was no wonder everyone was also amazed in the market. About 6 out of 10 people asked me if this was a demo and how much the projector costs etc. I immediately realised, that indeed I am in a bustling market, people expect to see things selling. And it was Friday, which is market day. The market massively increases in density, and many big sellers come here. ( https://mappingmapusamarket.wordpress.com/category/friday-bazaar/ ) Eventually, I had to put up a ‘Projector not for sale’ note at the side. This way I could just point to the note and say, please watch the film.

A sixteen year old, DVD selling, migrant boy called Akhtar, hailing from U.P. asked me, since you make films, well, why don’t you show the big bridge in Calangute, the Western Ghats and people parasailing on the beaches? To which I said, yeah I could even show pictures of the USA but the point is that i have to stay local, Nayim, his friend, unexpectedly then said something in my favour, he said “jo cheez dikhti nahin woh dikhate hain yeh” (he is showing stuff that doesn’t necessarily get seen man). I thanked Nayim in my head and said yes thats more to the point. During the process 2 people even asked for my number, a certain Mr. Prasad and Mr. Vishal with whom I had intense conversations, they said they like the film but do not know what to make of them but they seemed impressed and to me they seemed like thinking inquisitive folk, unfortunately I left 4 days later and I never got a call from them.

This was the first public art project, I have done, I have seen public art and deeply appreciate how the works on display prompts passers by to ask questions and try to understand what is going on. I like the fact that the average person, is not connected with the popular discourse of art, his mind is not conditioned to make stereotypical connections, it fascinates me as to what such a person would take from something like this. Often they make comments and ask questions, that would have never occurred to myself. Interacting with people in the market and trying to communicate the idea, clarifies my own perspective and therefore I see it all as part of the process. But perhaps, next time I will show films that people here can relate more to.

Here are photographs of all of the eight, machines. I could only get one image of the one near the old fish market because he refused to co-operate. Put it this way, I wasn’t able to start a conversation. Following are observations I made through out the process of filming and talking to the people who ran the shops, these are a mix of factual, trivial and anecdotal observations as random details became more apparent in the process.

  • 7 out of the eight machines have the same basic design. All machines, have 3 fixed gears between the motor and the grinder. Ram-Milan’s (Vikas Cold Drinks) machine is of a  different design, it has one less belt and a cog instead. His machine lost on power and I remember it kept getting stuck, and squeezed out less juice. Although, his machine had a very pretty fly wheel and its bell rang at the highest beats per minute.
  • The machines ran at slightly different speeds, they ran at 108, 99, 108, 100, 94, 96 and 178 beats of the bell per minute.
  • 4 of the machines used a single bell, 2 of the machines used 2 bells and 2 others used a bunch of 4-5 bells, these ones had a really nice ghungroo like sound to them.
  • The strings that Mr.Naik (Krishna Cold Drinks) uses to tie the bells to the machine, breaks every 4-5 days. I suggested a metal thread to which he said “aise hi chalta hai”.
  • All machines were painted in variations of a sky blue shade. This trait is somewhat specific to Goa.
  • It was common knowledge among the others that Ankush Juice Center outside the flower market is the biggest seller in the market. This is because of where his shop is placed, it receives the most foot fall. The one man running it, worked ceaselessly with his rather powerful machine, juicing and serving continuously.
  • Only 2 sellers, sold just sugarcane juice. Others resorted to keeping cold drinks, snacks and even agarbattis.
  • 5 out of the 8 had a guard, on the fly wheel, where as 3 ran without any safety measures. These naked machines, looked great as you could see each of the individual moving parts, although this came at the cost of safety, but no one reported of any accidents.
  • All machines were operated by one man, except 2 who ran a two man operation,  here, one man kept juicing and serving, the other, skinned the cane and cleaned the shop.
  • I also learnt from Ram-Milan, that juicing is the easy part since the machine does all the work of squeezing out the juice, cleaning and skinning the cane prior to the juicing is where the bulk of the labour is.
  • 3 shops were run by people who are employed and paid a wage to run the shop. In these cases, the goan landlord, most likely owns a few properties. 5 of the sellers owned and ran their own shops.
  • Like everything else, the business changes with the seasons, so just after spring, April through to September is their busiest time. As its hot and a cold glass of sugarcane juice becomes that much more desirable.
  • Served with a dash of lemon and crushed ice, a glass of sugarcane juice is tasty and refreshing. It has a lot of flavour and is surprisingly less sweet than most other beverages like Pepsi or Coca-Cola.
  • The sugarcanes come from the neighbouring state of, Maharashtra.
  • In an ironic reversal of the crucial allegiance between Krishna and Arjun in the Mahabharata, Mr. Naik of Krishna Cold Drinks and Mr. Sandeep of Arjun Cold Drinks, are infact the only two direct rivals in the market, simply because they are neighbours. Mr. Sandeep said, tension mounts when a customer comes midway and both of us are vying for his/her attention because of the tension this causes we hardly ever speak to each other. (note last picture in gallery)

    You are invited for a fim screening, made by myself. I was fascinated by the repetitive sound that the sugarcane machines make, initially I saw it as a metaphor for the idea of simultaneity that for me becomes very apparent in the hustle and bustle of the market. But soon I found myself mesmerised by the sound and the various components that revolve . I will be showing a 6 minute film on a loop starting from 6:00 pm till 8:30 pm. Please make it if you can.

A few shots, from one of the bigger buildings surrounding the market. It was interesting to overlook various happenings in the market in one sight,  as I stood there, I saw a good number of people simultaneously buying stuff, casually strolling, trying to sell goods etc. You could hear an ambiguous talking, buses honking far away, the sound of traffic and to my surprise, you could also hear the bell ringing of one of the sugarcane sellers in the market, I am in the process of making a short film on the 8 sugarcane machines in and around the market.

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Hello everyone,

As some of you may know, we ran a 6 day workshop from the 13-18 focusing on creating new responses to the market in the form of, artistic impressions/interventions. So, we have just finished a rather action packed week.

high up bbk high up

We had a fantastic week, full of curiosity and enthusiasm followed by articulate conversations, these conversations helped break the ice among strangers and also, with the development of ideas. It was a great group of people from various backgrounds such as, graphic design, journalism, fabric natural dyeing, history and of course art. In the weekends we also saw some Goa College of Arts students, namely Rajaram, Sahil, Sunny and Gautam, whose project is to finish this weekend, 25-26 January.

01sharmi Print

To start things off, artist Sharmistha Kar did a performance, which involved her continuously transferring 200 metres of Gajra made in the flower market, out of ‘Kakda’ flowers, she then offered a metres length to anyone who wanted it. She finished before schedule. A post on the performance is to follow soon, so watch this space.

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As the workshop began on the 13th of January, everyone was really hands on and projects soon went into directions such as, creating a web based Mapusa market diary, documenting the making of Pao, making a short film on the 8 sugarcane juicers in an around the market, exploring and understanding the crucial roles that women play in the market among many other ideas and using imperfect, mutant brinjals as a tool for communication, the term “naak vaangi” (nosed brinjal) has been coined as a result of this.

So, say hello to Sharmi, Nash, Gayatri, Werner, Shankar, Mehar, Alok, Shubhanshi, Kabir and Maithili. It was great to work with all of you. We’re looking forward to individual posts from you.

IMG_5041 everyone evening

The Mapusa lose/find game involved the Mapusa Mappers splitting up into 4 groups of 4-5 people. Each group then writes 4-5 tasks for another group to accomplish. This is the twist because when you write a task you know, you don’t have to do it but on the other hand someone is writing up a task for you, and it may well be a tricky one. Once all groups had their tasks, we set out to do them in Mapusa market in the space of an hour. The tasks we got were:

Task 1: Find and photograph 10 handmade items.

There is an absolute abundance of handmade goods in Mapusa Market like brooms, chappals, a variety of bamboo products, pottery, a variety of forged tools, handicrafts from all over india perhaps one of the most high quality and unique products are the coir ropes which are also used to bind brooms, the bamboo basket makers can be found at the back of the market, by the banana wholesalers.

Task-2:  Find 10 different imitation products and document them, each one of them must be from a different shop inside the market complex.

Imitation products can also be found very much in abundance, imitation brands in clothes, watches, bags, belts etc. with quirky alterations like a “Fostrank” and “Reedok” school bag, Nokia and Sony shopping bags etc. can be found in many of the shops, an exact copy of the classic Casio F-91W is available with a street watch seller, except its a Gasio.

Task 3: Find 6 products made from the jackfruit tree and photograph them.

This task was the hardest for the group as it remains unfinished, with only 3 jackfruit tree items documented:

Jackfruit leaf disposable plates (which can be found in the flower market; it is a great example of a truly ecological product), jack fruit chips and a kind of cheese locally called ‘saata’ are available at the sweetmeat shops opposite the flower market. Later on, after the presentation, we found out that  jackfruit lumber (a hardwood) is used to make various kinds of furniture like stools, tables and tools such as the coconut grinder (seen in the photos of the handmade items above).

Task 4: Take pictures of local deities inside the market complex and document the donation boxes besides each.

Task 5: Find and buy a locally made liqueur filled chocolate

Chocolate liqueur can be found at Carmins sweetmeat shop near the flower market. The chocolates are filled with either ‘feni’ (a wine made from cashew) or coconut palm rum.