On Friday July 3rd, artists Pankaj Tiwari and Abhishek Thapar will start their durational performance The Art of Walking, which is co-produced by SPRING. In thirteen days they will walk from Amsterdam to Calais, France, a hike of 312 kilometers long. With this performance, Tiwari and Thapar would like to raise awareness to the oppressive situation of migrant workers in India during this corona era.
After COVID-19 broke out in India, the Indian government hastily announced a strict national lockdown from March 25th. A decision that has a major impact on the working-class communities in India. In a matter of hours, the lockdown was jolting halt to the economy and many daily wage laborers and other precarious workers were rendered jobless, moneyless, food less and under the fear of contracting COVID. In such a desperate situation, the migrant workers who were living in large Indian cities were left with no choice but to turn towards their homes in remote villages and small towns of India. Trains, buses or other public transport was suspended. The streets were barricaded and under a curfew. Millions of workers took to the streets and decided to walk towards their villages and towns with their children, families and a few belongings. These distances were from 300 to 2200 km. Few died on the way, few lost their children, few got killed by a train, few survived to reach home.
Tiwari and Thapar start their journey on July 3, a long hike with meditation and mourning. During the journey they will initiate conversations with other migrant artists and build solidarity across Europe on some of these issues. The journey will conclude with a meal. It will be cooked, shared, and eaten together at Calais with everyone.
The Art of Walking seeks to create space for conversation, and exercise an urgent role and function of art in the time of crisis. 80% of the production budget of this project is paid to the migrant workers in India. With the experiences that Tiwari and Thapar gain on their journey, they develop a performance that we present at SPRING 2021.
You can follow Tiwari and Thapar on their journey via their Facebookpage The Art of Walking.
FOLLOW THE WALK
Co-Produced by HAU Hebbel am Ufer (DE), Flinn Works (DE), Theaterfestival Boulevard (NL), Productiehuis Theater Rotterdam (NL), SPRING Festival (NL), Standplaats (NL) wpZimmer (BE), Performing Borders UK, Liberty UK Festival. Support by Over Het IJ Festival (NL).
Image: Himanshi Parmar