How to be a fig?


Veena's latest project in 2017 named ‘How to be a Fig?’, is in collaboration with Artecology Initiative that brings ecologists, researchers, performing and visual artists together to explore and communicate through movement the importance and role of fig trees in our eco-system. The project has brought together more than 25 individuals people from diverse backgrounds with a common thread that connects them all – their love for trees. Age was not a barrier for the participants who were in their 20’s to 50’s. This eclectic bunch of individuals belonged to professions ranging from science to cycling and art to engineering. While a few were trained in some form of dance for most of them, it was a new experience moving on stage. All the participants had keen interest to explore the idea of communicating science through movement and trained with Veena for two months to perform the piece which premiered at the Students Conference for Conservation Science (Bengaluru) in September, 2017.

Fig (Ficus) trees are considered keystone species in a rainforest as they sustain several lives – from birds, mammals to the tiniest of insects. They were around when dinosaurs roamed the earth and they continue to thrive in today’s modern world. Though Ficus is part of the cultural and social landscape, the ecological significance of these species is not widely acknowledged. The hidden flowers of the fig and it’s extraordinary relationship with the wasps are mysteries known only to a few. ‘How to be a fig?’ – this movement piece will aim to unravel the mystery of these magnificent trees. The artists tried to express through the human body the complex role that ficus plays in the ecosystem.Through this collaboration the participants interacted with scientists specialising in the study of fig trees to understand the ecological importance of ficus, ensuring that the art work created, is a result of a symbiotic interaction between artists and ecologists. Often classical forms of dance in India use poetry to describe the beauty and cultural aspects of these trees. Unlike these forms that use language and story-telling to describe a concept in a literal way, 'How to be a fig?' aimed to capture the essence of the ficus using the body through space and time.