A site specific art event in and around an open well using installations, dance and photography at Visthar campus located in the outskirts of Bangalore, Dodda Gubbi.​​​​​​​ Supported by India Foundation for the Arts (IFA), Presented by Visthar.
Artists: C F John, Tripura Kashyap and Azis T.M​​​​​​​
During the preparatory phase of the art project 'Walls of Memories', three of us, C.F. John, Tripura Kashyap and Azis T.M interacted with the community of Narayanpura to understand better their relationship with wells. They spoke of wells they had dug, wells drying up, bore-wells replacing wells, ground water levels receding, and of the changing professions and lifestyles. One day as we were leaving the village, Velliyamma a bright, chirpy woman, came up to us and said "In those days, our wells were filled to their brim with sweet water, now a days these wells have gone dry and empty. The hospitals nearby are full of people dying because of polluted water!" These words still echo in our ears - she died a week after this meet.
'Walls of Memories' is a site specific art project in and around an open well using installations, dance and photography. Three artists, C F John, Tripura Kashyap and Azis T.M, have collaborated in this project which culminated with an art event on 7th and 8th of February 2003. The site is situated at Visthar campus located in the outskirts of Bangalore in the village Dodda Gubbi, 15 kms from M.G Road.'Walls of Memories' is a project of Visthar, supported by India Foundation for the Arts. 
Walls of memories - An art event of the unresolved edges 
An unused car can be dismantled and sold as spare parts. 
A ruined building can be demolished.
An emptied bottle can be thrown
But what we do with a dry well
Is it an empty space to be filled 
Or a space filled with memories.

Context
I saw this well for the first time in 1994. An abandoned self. People had dumped into it all what they did not want or did not want to see. About 10 feet of the side wall had collapsed from the top. The parapet wall too had gone. A number of steps leading to the bottom lay broken. But a pipal tree growing of from the wall from its depth had an enigmatic presence.
I sat with it for a couple of hours, looking into it from the top and later looking around from the inside to the top. I did not know what compelled me, but felt a magnetic pull -- something deeply disturbing. As I was leaving I said to the well as if to a person, that I would like to work with it. Years passed, meanwhile I read about wells and reflected on the cosmology that communities shared about water bodies -- the changing life styles, changing agricultural patterns, urban development and politics, changed meaning of water as a consciousness to that of a commodity, spiritual meanings of water and water bodies and the meaning of Body itself. 

Renowned Malayalam poet K.G. Sankarapilla's poem Kinar(the Well), shares a multilayered view of the well. During these years, Ponnappa, the well-known cartoonist from Bangalore did a cartoon. He portrayed someone looking into a wishing well, saying, all that he wished from it is water. Yes, all what we wish from a well is water. Nothing else. How dreadful it is, when we fail to come to this simple realization by ourselves. Like the empty well staring at the world from its depth, I felt that the world and I were staring at each other.​​​​​​​
In 1999, I asked Tripura Kashyap and T.M. Azis if they could collaborate with me on this project. Since then it was the well that guided us.
In the 30ft space from the ground to the floor of the well, every moment of our work oscillated between the gravity of the body and the realization of everything that is vanishing -- the end of matters that mattered. Hence working on every form was an attempt to explore the enigma of our relationship between what we are and that which is disappearing, between what is present and what is absent.
(See hand out for further information)
C.F. John
Images from the WorkbooK
Images from the workshop with villagers after many interactions to understand the cosmology of the wells.
Many wells in the villages had become garbage dumping places which were put on fire. Adjacent to this site one can still find small worship places where they offer pooja to the guardians of the land and deities of water.
Back to Top