Habitat |


Shovan Gandhi

Objects are created for a purpose but occupy a part of the natural environment that causes tension between them and their surroundings. Man-made superstructures are utilitarian and have a history attached to them. A ship for example, carries within itself many memories and stories. It marks a route from its making to its travels. Against the backdrop of the vast ocean, a ship reminds us of its inconsequential size but the moment it reaches a shore, its mammoth scale is realised against the backdrop of a beach.

This is Alang, a town on the coast of Gujarat where the landscape is dominated, defined and demographically shaped by its industrial function of ship breaking. It is the last journey of each ship that sets its course for Alang ; it has performed its function and is decommissioned. Once a dysfunctional object like a ship becomes incongruent to its habitat, it is reduced to its materiality. This shifting of material, economies and the act of re-appropriation of an object is a violent yet regenerative one.

Ships come to die at Alang and to be reborn as something else. The photographs contain impressions of a prevailing socio-cultural ecosystem in which unimportant men can aggregate and die so that dead ships live. In the death of a superstructure, there is melancholy, violence and rebirth.

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