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Life Cycle explores the place of the bicycle in the everyday lives of city dwellers in Kolkata. Are Kolkata’s bicycles relics of a past to be hastily discarded or are they viable, if complicated, cargo vehicles in India’s burgeoning cities? Winding through Kolkata’s roads we follow the city’s daily wage-workers, teachers and environmentalists and their changing relationships to cycling. What happens when new traffic regulations impede two-wheeled travellers from riding on Kolkata’s roads? How do vendors, couriers, newspaper sellers and artists negotiate Kolkata’s roads congested with cars and other motorised transport? Who wins the battle for the road – the bicycle or the car? Life Cycle is a tribute to the bicycle in uncertain times; and its relationship to rapidly changing Indian cities.
Malini Sur is an anthropologist and a faculty member at Western Sydney University. Since 2014, she has been investigating how the bicycle mediates the changing relationship that daily wage-workers and migrant vendors have with post-colonial cities in India. Life Cycle is her first documentary. Photographs from Malini’s fieldwork have been exhibited in Amsterdam, Berlin, Bonn, Chiang Mai, Gottingen, Heidelberg, Kathmandu and Munich. She has also curated for the International Institute of Asian Studies (Leiden/Amsterdam).
This event is presented by the South Asia Research Institute, and the Resources, Environment and Development Group, at Crawford School, ANU.