WORK by TANDEL FUND OF ARCHIVES
Tandel Fund of Archives (TFA) is a socially engaged archive and ethnographic pop-up museum of the Son Koli (fisherfolk) of Mumbai. This matriarchal community is the oldest known indigenous people of the coastal region that earlier consisted of seven islands. As an artist collective, the co-founders of this collective are the artists and educators, Parag Kamal Kashinath Tandel and Kadambari Koli Tandel.
Koli women's everyday clothing included the kashta sari draped below the waist where their upper torsos remained uncovered. Colonisation introduced the conservative blouse and imposed taxes on women who refused to conform.
Blouse Tax of Mobai / Mumbai (2021), Installation with cotton fabric, replicas of old Portuguese copper coins, bamboo, holy crab, blood spotted crab shells, mild steel
TFA’s uniquely shaped art installation, ‘Blouse Tax of Mobai/Mumbai’, draws upon their blouses and shells that convey their gendered and marginalised lives as a fishing community. The installation is both a memorial to those who refused to conform to colonial diktat, and a beacon of strength and hope for the emancipation of indigenous bodies of today.
Their poetry and songs are performed in a Koli dialect, Dhavla, where Dhavlarine is a folk songstress. Before brahminical influence, Dhavlarines used to solemnise Koli community's marriages. Nowadays, they cover a range of subjects as Koli people go through the struggle and trauma of displacement. As their villages are sea-facing, their homes have been sought as places for the development of prime properties.
Anger and distrust has led to women singing and performing songs of displacement. These in turn have influenced young men who are writing songs of rebellion. While their material heritage is threatened, their oral narratives become louder and louder.