As a parallel with the Indian Heritage Centre’s facade which is inspired by the monumental step wells of India, the artist contextualises the architecture of Baoli wells, restoring these heritage structures to their original function which is to bring water to everyone who needs it.
Alongside the introduction of modern water systems, time, weather and neglect have eroded the inverted fortresses until recently, when it was discovered that these edifices of ancient technology can help curb the water crisis worsened by climate change. Heritage and its structures are unable to exist without proper, organised human intervention — the unseen side of cultural and heritage work.
Considering India’s long struggle against dams ravaging and displacing entire communities, there has been a validating realisation that communal systems are more resilient, despite predating modern ones by more than a thousand years. This highlights the importance of learning history and old practices in order to move forward rather than relegating them to hauntology.
Lastly, the kapothka mudra juxtaposed against the geometric quality of the wells figuratively expresses gratitude to the teacher – in this case history and heritage, sustained by our forebears so the rest of us may learn about ourselves.