“Picnicking is far from a simple affair in eastern India. In a land where the fleeting months of December to February offer the only time to ‘enjoy’ the otherwise unbearable tropical sun, picnicking is a winter's pastime that’s taken very, very seriously,” says Arko Datto
, who has just released his first book, 'PikNik'
, an exploration of the picnic phenomenon in eastern India.Groups of families, friends, neighbours and colleagues travel long distances to claim the perfect riverside spot. Vats of freshly slaughtered chicken, sacks of vegetable and an arsenal of pots, pans and gas cylinders are lugged along, taking cooking en plein air to a whole new level. Gigantic loudspeakers blare the songs from Indian blockbusters high above permissible decibels. Men get drunk, brawl and dance as women and children watch, without much interaction, if any, between genders. As the sun sets, the buses pull out, leaving the leftovers of the feast amidst a sea of rubbish.
'Pik-Nik' brings together the work realised by Calcutta based artist, Arko Datto about this phenomenon, and an essay combining historical background and personal memories by Kushanava Choudhury, whose acclaimed first novel about Calcutta, The Epic City (2017), shows a deep understanding of the expectations and contradictions of contemporary urban Indian young people.
Arko Datto is represented by East Wing.
See more and get a copy for yourself at Le Bec en l'air
Visit Arko Datto's website at www.arkodatto.com