For Shiva Gor, 36, art is his medium of choice to visually represent the rich culture of his tribal community, and offer a critique to current practices of art. Shiva is from the Gor community—a subgroup of the Banjaras— in Maharashtra. He specialises in installations, an artistic genre of site-specific, three-dimensional design to transform the perception of a space. Gor has been working on voicing the issues of tribal communities through art. “We talk about Dalits, Brahmins, Muslims. But we don’t often talk about tribes. Because democracy is not accessible to them. And hardly anyone is coming to the jungles to check upon them,” he says. Gor believes that art has a power and it should be used to present a discourse for tribal communities.
Gor is a first-generation graduate. He acquired his Master’s degree in art from Sir J.J School of Arts in Mumbai. He thinks his education was possible because the Constitution guarantees certain rights to us. Growing up, he faced a lot of discrimination. “It has become part of our language. We need to challenge that.” Initially, Gor considered teaching as a career for a secure future. But “I realised it won’t serve the purpose.” He wants to empower his community and become an artist. Tribal communities are losing their culture and heritage and Gor is working on preserving them. He says, “it is important to preserve tribal culture. The new generation is forgetting their language and heritage. This should not happen.” He fears that it will further marginalise them. “We need to communicate ideas of empowerment with tribes to empower them to speak about their rights. Only this will bring equality,” Gor says, “My work is to take social democracy to the people. By talking to them, voicing their concern.” Politicians have no stake in taking up issues of tribal community, “it is us, within the community, to come forward to demand our rights.