Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Spinning machine
The above photo is a part of the spinning machine, it is a stand on which a certain number of yarn spindles are mounted each contributing a single strand of thread that through elaborate systems of pulleys and hooks that delicately maneuvere each strand from the spindle to the end (right hand side of first photograph) where all the strands converge passing through a small mechanism that is again made of simple wooden pegs and metal rods that does the job of managing each strand and sending it to the desired position in a giant spindle specially prepared for a certain weave. The spindle is usually a drum made of metal or wood (2nd photo) onto which the threads get wrapped around tightly. Now the tough part is that this spindle is loaded onto the weaving machine which again takes each strand and weaves it into the cloth and so it is extremely important that throughout the spindle, it has to have every single strand or else it will give rise to an empty line in the cloth with that particuilar strand absent. A worker explained that in case a strand breaks they stop the machine rejoin the strand and then start the machine again, and this is so important that 'zindagi ka dhaga tootey tho chaltha hai, lekin mishin ka dhaga n tootey'.
Bhiwandi suffers a lot of power cut, power fluctuation, power surge and many other incentive packages provided by our schrizo govt. busy stamping SEZs all over the place, due to this power problems especially surges that are very common the tubelights have known to explode and ruin cloth, spindles or even some machines, till someone came up with the idea of having a bulb put in series with the tube (2nd photo). The bulb soaks the extra power and just glows very brightly for some seconds and in turn protects the tube. In some cases bulbs are also provided as their provide the required warmth for the yarn.

Starch machine
This process is required before the spindles of raw cotton yarn go for weaving so as to increase the strength of the strands and also make them slightly hard. This is a much bigger machine consisting of compartments that hold the starch powder and heat it so that it gets the desired consistency to be applied on the strands. The machine efficiently dips each strand of the spindle and coats it with starch before it is sent onto the drums that you see in the photograph to be dried, cooled and then spun again into the same spindle. This entire process involving coating of strands with starch give rise to a lot of heat, the entire galla was extremely hot with workers working in close proximity to these machines handling boiling hot strands with their bare hands. The floor superviser explained that in most of the labour here in bhiwandi was informal and got hired on a daily basis, but in many cases a workers often takes to a certain process or becomes comfortable with a certain machine and that is when 'aadmi aur mishin ek ho jathe hai'.

Dying machine
The yarn dying is an optional process, depending on what cloth has to be generated. A monochrome cloth is sent for dying after the cloth is woven but if the cloth is to have complex weaves visible from both sides of multicoloured threads then it is necessary that weaving process happens after dying of yarn. The process consists of mounting small spindles on a tray that has perforated vertical rods (as seen in the 1st photo on the left hand side) this tray is put into the dying machine which looks somewhat like a mini boiler (as seen on the right hand side of the 1st photo) that gets filled with a certain coloured dye and then sealed. I am not very sure what the right hand side photo machine does but it is a part of the dyeing process i think. The machine was again taking each strand and coating it with oil, i guess it was like adding finishing touches or something. The owner of this galla happened to tell us that 'Bhiwandi mein koi bhooka nahin sotha hai, sabko kam miltha hai' and explained that he had a strict policy that he employs almost anyone who comes and knocks on his factory gate (for that day).
Bhiwandi as an area has number of small and large gallas some legal and others illegal all working under the informal sector and employing a huge number of informal labour. There is complete absence of planned open spaces or housing for people who work and live here as entire area falls under industrial zone.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Profusion of Confusion of Position

Last week we finally got opportunity to show our work to S.P. at his studio in Thane. The studio was located on the 2nd floor of an aging yellow building abutting a narrow vehicular road, narrow enough to reduce vehicular speeds but wide enough to stage different dramas from everyday life, from women buying milk to violent fights. The insides were simple with white tiles (having absolutely no marks of paints) and white washed walls, with a unit having well stacked brushes and paints. Everything neatly arranged almost to the extent that I for sometime imagined that even the colour tubes followed a VIBGYOR sequence. An equally neat library and study cabinet adorned with the past as well as the contemporary on one side and a small kitchen platform on the other side. We started showing our work on the studio floor with every image given its due and discussed patiently in context to our intention, methodology and overall project idea. For the first time we were talking about the ‘FORM’ of the image itself and the position we had to define. Even we haven’t been clear about the nature of images and so we have been constantly referring to them as images and not graphics or paintings or documentation material. If we were to show these images as paintings then the form, balance, skill invested become important. As I was also reading Berger’s Shape of Pocket, I seem to understand what it means…where he explains that horses, lilies, sunflowers, shoes, haystacks as subjects to paint have been commonly painted by number of artist and attempted to ‘map’ the model in its entireness, but it is only those specific horses, lilies, sunflowers, shoes and haystacks that become famous and hold everyone’s attention, where the model and the artist merge as one. Here I think it is not the skill of painting that is stressed but the skill of seeing the model or the object and the rest is rigour. No doubt the ‘CONTEXT’ (What? When? How?) of the art work or anything for that matter does become important, but I feel having been trained to think in a certain way without a context most of us seem to have absolutely no means of assessing anything or being in a position to appreciate an image / text / poetry / play. So whenever we go to any art gallery most of us have a deep urge to understand context of the images and then most images / artists get ‘equaled to’, where except the socio-political context all other layers of beauty often get missed out. In History of Art (I don’t remember the author as there are so many histories of arts written) I remember reading a constant attempt by many artists to get ‘something right’ where what is right is something that is not clearly defined but a number of compositions are tried with different colours that are constantly changed on different sizes, and then a diagonal line or a yellow dab just makes it right. I think it’s similar to the ‘right skew’ concept that most of us architects fetishise or the ‘right proportions’ for that matter. When someone makes a wax sculpture of a Little Ballet Dancer aged 14, I wonder does it really become important to know, Why was it made? Who commissioned it? What is the history of Ballet? Was the girl artist’s friend? Did she start Industrial revolution? In order to appreciate how does she stand (she is made of wax, of recently she was x-rayed to reveal the artists work on her skeleton and his attempts to just make her stand), the surreal scale (of she not being small enough to be looked at as a doll but not even life sized but somewhere cast in an uncomforting scale, where you look at a small girl wearing real ballet costume covered with a layer of wax in a glass cubicle) or her expression with high cheek bones (almost Egyptian) hiding secrets that few have access to. No doubt that she turned even more beautiful as I read more about her and her creator, but I wonder isn’t she beautiful the first time you see her? Does personal liking become the only framework in absence of context, to enjoy a piece of classical music, a painting or a poem?