The Village on the Highway
V&A SOUTH KENSINGTON | ON VIEW UNTIL April 20, 2024
The Village on the Highway, 2021, the print commission by Gauri Gill, inaugurates the V&A South Kensington’s newly expanded Photography Centre. Visit the work in person until 2024.
Gauri Gill is an Indian photographer known for her collaborative work with peripheral communities, especially in rural India. For this commission, she documented the makeshift dwellings of farmers occupying major roads leading into New Delhi while they protested new laws that threatened their livelihoods. Barred from entering the capital by police forces, the protesters remained on these sites for over a year from 2020 to 2021. They braved extreme weather conditions and waves of the Covid-19 virus while running community kitchens, or langars, that fed all who came. Eventually, their protests succeeded, and the laws were overturned.
Gill meticulously and sensitively recorded the temporary homes, made using repurposed farming equipment, to highlight their ingenious construction.She also made studies of other objects of daily life, like cooking pots and water pumps. Collectively, the series explores design creativity in the face of urgent necessity. In Gill’s words, ‘This story is really about David vs Goliath, as rural workers brought their very bodies, tools and fight for survival right to the palace gates.’ -Marta Weiss, Senior Curator of Photographs, V&A Museum