Cycle – 3 Pop-Up Museum

‘Estuaries of Waning Sounds’ Cycle – 3 Pop-Up Museum.

Socially Engaged Pop-Up Museum of Linguistic Heritage of Kolis (Indigenous Fisherfolks Communiity of Mumbai), Curated by Ravi Agarwal, Support by Goethe Institut, Mumbai,

The project inquires about the slow loss of heritage language of Koli’s (Fisherfolks) of Seven island Megalopolis Mumbai and intends to develop a socially engaged word bank. It is mapping comparative anecdotes of fading Son Koli language from more than two fifty villages in and around Greater Mumbai. There is no documentation of Koli linguistic heritage or any dictionary in government or private archives. The project is an ongoing investigation since the year 2019, it is a long-term endeavor to archive, publish books, and organize Pop-up museums in the Fishing villages of seven islands

Thousands of years back many ocean species were titled by Koli peoples of seven islands, Barnacles as Bocharee and Oysters as Kalva, big fish were titled and worshiped as deities, these titles are today local names of fish, how much time does it take to develop language? How and why these local species were named and worshipped?

Since prehistoric times humans have been wandering for sustenance, hunting, fishing, and gathering was the primary motive. It was after the invention of farming, because of which humans deciphered to live in a stationary domain, But, did Kolis of seven islands figured out very early to live on the periphery of the ocean? as access to ample sustenance was available and that was before farming was invented. Here they Started evolving by understanding patterns of Ocean, Moon and Stars, their former dominant deities. What was and is their linguistic heritage and culture? Will their pitch help us to understand the bare necessities of life? Is there a solution in the Koli language to restore the ocean in these times of climate change crises?

Koli tribes have their different jargon which is connected to ocean life. We see ‘language’ as an archeological site to unravel their past narratives which relate them to their wisdom since Stone Age. It is important to understand, how linguistic heritage & culture have shaped the way the Koli tribes think? also to map the cognitive skills of this community who live on the periphery of land and ocean. The Fisherfolk community’s approach to perceiving land from the ocean gives them a distinct identity. In these climate crises, we need a language that informs us about long-term sustainability.

The Pop-up museum of the linguistic heritage of the Koli’s of the seven islands which have been an ongoing endeavor since 2019, We believe this project is a monumental performance of collecting Koli words from fishing villages. Pop-up museum and Online exhibition will be a tool to display Koli words with meanings in Marathi-Hindi-English, visual narratives, publication of each important folk bard, staple culinary arts from each fishing village, Traditional songs, and interviews of past and current narrative will be exhibited. We are publishing books of folk singers in hard copy format as tangible evidence of loss of language.

TFA will work together with the Koli community of each Koliwada, Volunteers from each village will bring together villagers, folk Singers & independent Koli historians and conduct workshops with each Koliwada individually.

Project will start by conducting various workshops to write words, songs, narratives of past & current situations, culinary arts in the local language, Material on display is from Chendani and Vitawa fishing village, this time we are engaging with Colaba fishing village and Machimar Nagar, Cuffe parade.

Each fishing village have there own occupational & social spaces for festivals, for drying fish, and meeting places of fishing societies, in these spaces workshops will be conducted. Sites of the project: Greater Mumbai, Navi Mumbai & Thane.

Display of Socially Engaged Pop-Up Museum

Venue: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai