Artist Rebecca Chesney was chosen for the first Fellowship with CONA in Mumbai, India.
Chesney is interested in how we perceive land: how we romanticise, translate and define urban and rural spaces. Chesney looks at how politics, ownership, management and commercial value all influence our surroundings and investigates the impact of human activities on nature and the environment.
During her residency at CONA, Chesney looked at the human/animal conflict within the National Park situated in the heart of Mumbai. Her research included meeting with ecologists and environmentalists and gaining access to one of the Park tribal villages.
Above is an interview with a local tribal woman living in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai. She tells of how her family has been living within the Park for 7 generations and also talks about the conflict between humans and the leopards of the Park. This is part of a 15 minute interview.
"Many of my relatives have been killed and eaten by leopards. The government has done nothing, given us nothing. My nephew was killed outside his house and my aunt was also killed in a brutal manner – only her head and bones were found.
People have been terribly scared ever since, and after these incidents children are not allowed to go outside after it is dark or close to 8 pm.
We’ve been told to leave the village on a number of occasions. They say that we are outsiders and immigrants, and that we should leave; but they don’t know that our ancestors have lived in this very village for a number of years, even before the park was built."
CONA is an artist–run initiative based on the edge of Mumbai, India, hosting exhibitions, residencies and events and acting as a resource center for artists and creative professionals.