Mulkh Teri / Tell me where you live 2013 digital album 39 minutes
In anticipation of a tourism boom in Himachal Pradesh, the residents of the village of Gunehr opened a number of shops. Not many years later, the roads in the area shifted, and Gunehr and its market got left behind as all the traffic was diverted through other towns. The Shop Art / Art Shop residency brought together 12 artists from across Asia to work out of these unused shop buildings, and to consider a role for artists to question the paradigms of the guest-host relationships in the region. In the context of this residency, Mulkh Teri is a project that resonates with some of the complexities of being in a place where borders are porous, geography cannot be laid flat, and where people come in search of things that are quite often unfindable.
Ansh Communications (also Awaaz ki Dukaan) has, within its collection of cassettes, a heavily obscured recording of a woman singing in search of a person named Nilli. This anonymous recording became an object of interest during my stay in the village of Gunehr, Himchal Pradesh. Together with residents of the village, I tried to find out who might have sang this song, where she was from, and what she was singing about. Everyone had a different opinion. Gunehr is on the cusp of many worlds between the jungles of the Upper Himachal and the markets of the Punjab plains. Between nomads and traders, tourists and Tibetans, the village extends much beyond its geographical limits. And just as Nilli's song is a song about searching, so these conversations and recordings are ones that search for the coordinates of a mulkh (from Urdu mulk: realm, kingdom) that is Gunehr. After three weeks of recording, I invited singers and musicians from the village to reinterpret and perform a new song over the recording. Listening sessions were held on the roof of the shop leading up to performances by the musicians at a localmela.