Kamathipura – A ‘Nether’-land in the City of Dreams: MAJID ABIDI

The collage-esque drawing was a response to ‘perception mapping’; of the images provoked in public imagination when confronted with the word ‘Kamathipura’, an infamous Mumbai red-light district. Continuing to harbinger a skewed & stigmatised reputation – which enables it safely harbour a sub-culture; home to the most marginal & downtrodden – a melting pot that has accommodated & embraced trans-genders, sex workers, the homeless pavement dwellers & all deemed ‘subaltern’. The brothels form a part of the British colonial legacy in India, which still thrives on trafficking young women from the rural hinterlands, often tricked through promises of lucrative employment in the ‘Maximum City’.

Over time, Kamathipura has become, what is termed ‘a degraded cesspool’, containing all degenerate influences, a living testimony of State’s neglect & lack of attention, allowing these activities to perpetuate unabated – as a ‘necessary evil’ to maintain the sanity of the a large male migrant force working in Mumbai. The work formed a part of Majid Abidi’s graduate thesis’ pre-design studies; which drew on Christopher Alexander’s hypothesis, that “… every place is given it’s character by the pattern of events that keep on happening there, and that there is a fundamental inner connection between each pattern of event & the pattern of space, in which it occurs…” conversely implying that by alteration of patterns of space & events, one can alter the character of Kamathipura, face-lifting, de-stigmatising & broadening the skewed public imagination, through suitable programmatic insertions.

It is simple ink on paper, (drawn with microns) woven through observations in the area (of buildings, spaces & activities) along with the photographs the artist clicked. This is the first in a series of drawings that are about to follow.

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