Destroyed Mangrove Forest of Goa gets its own installation

The Mangroves are a beautiful ecosystem and make for an accessible repository to study the symbiotic relationship shared by specific species of birds ( both local and migratory), butterflies and a host of aquatic species in their natural habitat, the only place they can call home.

As we look around us, the same coastline that makes Goa so magical is under threat, and we are one of the last generations who can save it. Mangroves act as natural barriers to climate change, serve as nurseries and breeding grounds for a multitude of aquatic species. Their effect on controlling soil erosion is vital to shaping the topography of our coasts. Goa’s mangroves are among the 12 unique mangrove forests in India that have been selected for better conservation by the Mangrove Society of India.

As cities and metastasizing suburbs forsake their natural diversity and their citizens grow more removed from personal contact with nature, awareness and appreciation diminish, breeding an apathy toward environmental concerns and, inevitably, further degradation of natural habitats. This leads rapidly to the extinction of experience, sucking the life from the land, the intimacy from our connection.

Ecopsychologist Peter Kahn describes a similar phenomenon, which he calls “environmental generational amnesia.” As each generation’s experience of “wildness” is diminished, humanity’s wildness “baseline” shifts.

Science alone cannot sway hearts and minds. Effective action on human-caused climate change requires more than scientific facts. We are moved to act by stories, poetry, art and music and by a retelling of our personal experiences of a rapidly changing climate.

The Goa Mangrove Community Art Collective was conceived to increase sensitization towards the importance of Mangroves for our ecosystem and seeks to hold space for these voices and expressions. It seeks to address environmental generational amnesia, by involving younger generations, concerned citizens and the very communities whose livelihood is based largely on the health of this ecosystem. Our social nature is our strength, when we share our beliefs and identity through creative expression, we move towards moving communities to create change.

This Community Art Project, entitled  “Aamche Mangrove”  works at the intersection of citizen science, conservation, awareness and art. It seeks, not just to build awareness but an emotional connection to this fragile ecosystem, setting grounds for positive action for their preservation.

The collective was initiated by interdisciplinary artist and curator, Miriam Koshy in collaboration with Vishal Rawlley and Talullah D’Silva who run the “Community Classroom” and were supported by Dhruv Goswami, Kabir Naik, Joshua, Hrithwik, Vikas Muthaparambil, Hina Saiyada, Hari  Venita Coelho, Jack Sukhija and several others including Heta Pandit, Sheela Raj, Gautam and Pushpanjali contributing in spirit, to combine efforts to work on the first project of “Aamche Mangrove”.

As part of our first project, we have created a spiral installation of prayer flags for healing at a site where a vast tract of Mangrove Forests has been destroyed in Merces along the Panjim Bambolim highway.

All that remains now of it is a massive crematorium of skeletal trees where there was once a thriving old-growth Mangrove forest. What has been destroyed is not just the forest but an entire habitat and a beautiful ecosystem.

To activate this site, we had a performance on the 3rd of February, 2022. The performances were an act of mourning and a prayer for healing and renewal. The children formed a human chain along the scaffolding draping the spiral ropeway with gauze sheets as a symbolic prayer flag for healing. This was followed by an evening performance where they stuck Leaves of Hope and Renewal to the dead trees.

On the evening of the  4th of February, we were joined by trained classical singer, Tritha Tripathi and Baul singer, Fakir Madhusudan Baul for a soulful sunset musical performance to energise the site with their songs and incantations.

Having prepared this installation at the site, we would like to invite the community and other artists and performers to witness, enter, experience and engage with the site, to gather, meet, talk, perform and add to the much needed collective healing in the face of the ecological grief we face with each passing day.

While a single line walkway has been created to reach the site, we do urge you to exercise caution and discretion in using it as it would be subject to daily wear and tear. If you would like to plan towards visiting or performing at the site while it lasts, do contact Miriam at 9823572035 for further details and queries.

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Author: Sheryl
Goa is a special place for Content Writer, Sheryl Gonsalves, with its picturesque beaches, gorgeous sunsets, rich heritage, and delicious food.

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