Biodiversity By The Bay is a festival of music, art and comedy to raise awareness around climate issues and celebrate Mumbai’s diverse ecosystem. The three-week festival is organised by the Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic and DeadAnt and is split into three sections of music, art and comedy.
DeadAnt is India’s only entertainment, news, and new-media company dedicated to comedy. Biodiversity By The Bay festival is part of the Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic’s broader campaign to use digital and social action to help protect Mumbai’s ecosystem. Set up by a collective of Mumbaikars, Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic believes in the idea of Mumbai as a city where climate consciousness and modernity are synonymous. Made up of organisations including Waatavaran, a climate non-profit, and Civis, an organisation that works to ensure public opinion is heard, they have created a list of demands that will be presented to civic bodies and policymakers within the government of Maharashtra.
So far the festival has seen special performances by the likes of Anushka Manchanda, Blot! and Nikhil D’Souza. This week will see a host of artistic interventions with 10 artists and designers launching new works to raise awareness around Mumbai’s pressing climate issues.
“We are delighted to have so many amazing artists and designers on board including Priyanka Paul, Pia Alize, Shilo Shiv Suleman, Aaron Pinto, Smish Design, Mehek (Giggling Monkey), Osheen Siva, Aaquib Wani, Shweta Malhotra and Vinu Joseph. We had invited everyone to create a new artwork which reflects an important part of our campaign to save Mumbai’s ecosystem. The works will be released across the week on the artists’ social media channels and we are incredibly excited to see what they have come up with. The week is both a celebration of Mumbai’s ecosystem and a celebration of art’s power to affect people and create change!” Ravina Rawal, Founder & Editor-in-Chief DeadAnt.
The week launched with self-taught illustrator and poet Priyanka Paul releasing a beautiful and moving illustration picturing the Koli fishing community who have been adversely affected by coastal developments, industrial fishing and now the Covid-19 pandemic. Talking about the project on her Instagram platform Priyanka said, “Mumbai stands at a critical point in its history. Our rich ecosystems and unique biodiversity are under threat from unsustainable planning and rapidly growing emissions. Without nature, we cannot survive. Conserving our environment cannot just be a global conversation, it has to be one that starts at a local level.”
Also addressing the Koli community and the damage of human encroachment on nature are works by Smish Designs and Aaquib Wani, releasing on the 15th and 18th October respectively. Smish Designs depicts a fisherman caressing a Lesser Flamingo to highlight the bond that they share supporting each other and as a gesture to portray our human connection with nature. Aaquib Wani’s work, Flock You more directly depicts our physical intrusion into nature, the work examines how our built urban environment continues to destroy Mumbai’s natural habitat with no concern for our future.
Whilst many artists have put together works showing the challenges and struggles to preserve a balance with nature others have produced works which celebrate Mumbai’s ecosystem. Launched yesterday,12 October, Pia Alize is showing an illustration that brings together many of the animals and plants that make up Mumbai’s environment including peacocks, deer, hibiscus flowers, crabs and butterflies. The work is a celebration
of everything that makes up Mumbai, Similarly on the 18th October, Shweta Malhotra will use her bold graphic style to depict a Flamingo as a symbol for Mumbaikers to understand the need to protect what they can.
Following the art week, Biodiversity By The Bay ends with five days of comedy (20-25 October) including live sets from Kunal Rao, a pioneer of Indian standup and co-founder of East India Comedy; Mumbai based comedian and host of The Anti Social Network José Covaco; and Daniel Fernandes, one of the biggest stand-up comics in India right now and known for his dark and irreverent style. Other performances include stand-up artist Prashasti Singh, standup comedian Anu Menon, and the hosts of the weekly comedy podcast The Internet Said So Varun Thakur, Neville Shah, Kautuk Srivastava and Aadar Malik.
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