Man on Boat | Installation | Performance

Sculpture / Performace

Size: Variable

Uzanbazar Ghat, Guwahati, Assam

January, 2017

Performance as a tool for opinionating through public action and participation.

Performed by Mr. Ramu Chowdhury

Body of work by Devadeep Gupta

The urban riverbanks of Guwahati are overflowing with temporary communities of non-native settlers, who come to the regional capital in search of a better life.

Living in tattered houses made of plastic sheets; these communities face the brunt of the river's brute force during annual floods and the ensuing catastrophe.

The Government remains evasive towards their existence, negating their visibility with beautification drives and infrastructure development along the riverbanks within the city.

A blue man on a blue boat stands in front of the people of the ever-flooding city, challenging his invisibility in a silent protest.


Sculpture 20m X 3m

Baladmari, Goalpara, Assam
Wall-building as a collective exercise and   tool for community gathering and exchange.

Collaborators: Badarruddin Ali, Babu Chowdhury, Suku Begum, Fakaruddin Ahmed, and more members of  Baladmari Char 1 Village, Goalpara

Body of work by Devadeep Gupta

Further Reading >
As monsoons urge on the raging waters of the mad river, lands of the river-banks fall unceasingly to the relentless. The high, concrete walls on banks of the urban areas hold a fight. The wall defies the water. The villages witness the wrath as lands and wells and fields are engulfed to the unsated watery hunger.

“We have to build a wall too.”

“Yes, we do.”

“Like the ones in the city. They protect the shops and the cycles, the poles and the dogs.”

“We will make a wall too.”

“Yes, we do.”

The idea to create a wall presented itself directly out of the circumstantial influences in the site. The surrounding shapes of the land added to the inspiration, reflecting themselves in the form and material of the intervention.

The absurdity of a grass wall used to stop a relentless force of nature expands upon the complex relationship of the community with the river, and their risky existence along its banks. The work contextualizes the irony of the river appearing as a threat to riverine communities, and at the same time, facilitating these literal straws of grass, upon which the villagers of Baladmari Char 1 hang on to during days of peril.

The site for wall-making becomes a point of gathering and exchange through dialogue, and extends itself as a symbolic statement in the context of the social and cultural history of Baladmari.

Undoubtedly, most of the wall is washed away within few hours. A section which remains is morphed into a temporal exhibition space of photographs made around the site during the process of wall-making. The re-activation of the space is intended to generate an impression of the action that outlasts its temporary being.


·       Where’s the fire?

·       Are you sure you can cry?

·       Is the horror real?

·       Where do you go to?

·       How far West?

·       Are you ok?

·       Do you care?

·       Are you the state?

·       How many shadows do you have?

·       Why do people do what they do?

·       Is information lost in a black hole?

·       Are we dancers?

·       Do we have multiple personality Order?

·       What if time runs out?

·       Would you start over?

·       Can you forgive?

·       Where’s the fire?

·       Are you sure you can cry?

·       Is the horror real?

·       Where do you go to?

·       Do you hear me?

·       What makes you a citizen ?

·       Do you need the state ?

·       Are you the state?

·       What's your privilege? 

·       Can facebook vote? 

·       Why are the kids angry?

·       Is your vote yours?

  How far west?

·       Who can afford organic?

·       Can farmers afford organic?

·       Is fashion sustainable?

The lightbox team in a participatory collaboration realised an extention of the art project by collective MilM2 based out of Santiago, Chile.

Question Project from the art collective @milm2stgo (MIL M2) brings questions and critique into public spaces. Its letters, usually on a mobile structure, attracts political attention and intentionally fosters the empowerment of the city’s inhabitants. The space of the city becomes a space for action that offers transformative and collective exchanges. Designed as an artistic way to engage with and participate in the community, the project supports the collective production, visualization, and viral dissemination of debates in the public realm.

  • Who owns the river?

    This question was displayed in front of a public dock on the river Brahmaputra in Uzanbazar locality. This dock is a relatively busy place along the river-bank surrounded with restaurants, tea-stalls and local markets which are regularly visited by tourists, passengers, restaurant goers, etc. who regularly participate in ‘using’ the river in a voluntary or involuntary way. Apart from that the area also houses the administrative department of Inland Water Transport. The question was directed towards authorities and civilians alike to activate a conversation about authorship over the river, amidst recent conversations about creating mega hydel power projects along the upper regions in its course.

  • Why are the kids angry?

    This question rooted itself in a socio-political aspect of the city. The question was directed towards students, and placed outside the most famous college of Assam, the Cotton College, which also happened to be very politically charged. The question was placed outside the gates of the college early in the morning, but abruptly taken out within a couple of hours by some unknown people.

  • Do we need the fence?

    This is again such a question which can reverb to a locality, and at the same time to a national as well as global context. It was an open question keeping in mind the recent uproars regarding the citizenship act that the region had witnessed. We intended to place it in front of the State High Court, but due to lack of clearance/permission, we installed this question on the banks of a lake next to the State High Court.

  • Can farmers afford organic?

    We wanted to ask this question following the recent upwards trends of capitalism associated with the terms ‘natural and organic’ in context to NE. The intention behind this question was to stir up the hidden dialogues of who actually gets to afford organic food in context to farmers and small-scale food growers who have historically practiced forms of organic farming in a vernacular way. The question was installed inside a cafe that in recent times had turned out to be a hot hangout spot for the new generation.

  • Are we dancers?

    We thought that this had to be one of the most apparent questions there is. Aren’t we all dancing to the tune of our assumptions about the world and reacting to it? We wanted it to provoke the public and at the same time challenge the notion of ABSOLUTE TRUTH. The question was installed on a roadside wall at Belle Vue which is a hotspot within the city and is frequented by both the youth and the elderly and also closely houses the Governor's Bungalow and the Chief Minister’s residence.

  • Can Facebook Vote?

    We derived this question naturally by willing to comment on the evident electoral tone that the city was going through during the time when the project was carried out. Being one of the most important elections of recent times in the region, we wanted to point out the social-media stances and activities that the political parties engage in, using or misusing the advantages of social media to their advantages in various ways. This question was installed on the road next to the river that led to the CM’s house, and thereby was heavily patrolled by police and the army, and yet saw major footfall from civilians and residents of that area.