Whose city is it, anyway?

Attend a multimedia exhibition Speculative Urbanism to understand the effect of mega real estate on Bengaluru

A multimedia exhibition Speculative Urbanism gives a detailed perspective on the expansion of mega real estate in Bengaluru. On display will be a collection of audio, video, poetic and photographic exhibits, based on several years of research and documentation by researchers at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) and the University of Minnesota.

“Professor Michael Goldman began working here in 2007 on his funded research project, The Making of a Global City, and now we have a collaborative team of researchers based in NIAS working on a National Science Foundation-funded study examining the impact of large-scale real estate projects on land, livelihoods, ecologies, and finance in Bengaluru,” says Hemangini Gupta, who along with Michael Goldman, and Anisha Baid have curated the show.

The photographs are by Pierre Hauser and the poems by Sachin Rathod.

The research was based at field sites in Devanahalli, Varthur, and the Malleshwaram–West, Yeshwanthpur areas. “We were keen to choose sites in older neighbourhoods transitioning from industrial to services and real estate and in the peri-urban regions where the land of agricultural communities are being transformed into real estate and infrastructure. Therefore, we’ve chosen sites in and around the airport as well as the North West and Eastern parts of the city to show these changes,” says Hemangini, a post-doctoral researcher.

Hemangini says the exhibition reflects on who pays the price for mega real estate and infrastructural projects, not only in terms of human actors, but also in terms of ecology. Hemangini says according to Michael Goldman, “These projects create greater inequality, including wealth for elite investors and greater precarity for displaced low-caste farmers and villagers, working-class and slum communities whose wages cannot keep up with the high cost of rents and living in and around the city.”

She explains that in terms of ecological costs, lakes have been most affected. “The field work of this project has been in and around lakes. We have connected the life histories of people who have lived near lakes, and how lakes have transformed their lives and how their livelihood around lakes like cattle grazing, are not possible anymore.”

On how real estate projects are developed in Bengaluru, Hemangini says,“Increasingly, real estate projects are built almost like townships, and everything is contained within that. Our focus thus far has been on the impact of large-scale real estate and infrastructural projects, examining their effects on communities who live near by, as well as surrounding ecologies of water and waste.”

Speculative Urbanism will open on July 27 at 5pm at Vismaya Gallery, Rangoli Arts Center, M.G. Road Metro, and will be on display at the same venue till August 8, from 10 am to 7 pm.

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