Tramjatra Project 2001 , front page projects

Tramjatra Project 2001

tramjatra is an ongoing project which since 1996 has brought together artists and the tramways communities of Melbourne (Australia) & Kolkata (Calcutta, India) to explore their cities through the medium of tramways. In the context of rising environmentalism and debates about the impacts of globalisation, tramjatra has demonstrated how new linkages can be made through a public arts practice of inter-cultural collaboration. Through a time where Kolkata’s struggling tramways have faced a persistent threat of closure and the operation of Melbourne’s tramways has been privatised and automated, the tramjatra project has sought to provoke a broader, global engagement in the culturally enriching and environmentally sustaining contribution that tramways can make to these cities.
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[3 x weekly broadsheet, ed Suzie Attiwill & Jogi Panhaal, Melbourne]

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['diamond cutter', Mark Misic, Kolkata]

Tramjatra charms jaded city.
The Times of India, Kolkata

Tramjatra binds together two cities at opposite ends of the socio-economic table. Tram global, feel local.
The Age, Melbourne

Forced the two governments to sit up and take notice.
The Telegraph, Kolkata

A journey of a different kind - one that highlighted the soul of Kolkata.
Hindustan Times, Kolkata

Right on track.
The Economic Times, Kolkata

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['curious yellow', Lisa Young, Melbourne]

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['prow', Mick Douglas, Melbourne]

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['double prow', Mick Douglas, Melbourne]

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['twin trammies', Roberto D'Andrea & Prabir Kumar Goswami, Melbourne]

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[cricket tram, Ujjal Dhar & CTC workers & Andy Miller]

The term ‘tramjatra’ is a joining of the English 'tram' with the Bengali word 'jatra', meaning journey; together, journey by tram. Melbourne & Kolkata are two cities with tracks of a shared past. Both cities were once the capitals of their respective new nations and regarded by the British in the late 19th century as jewels in their imperial crown. Both cities are the only cities in their nations to have continuously retained tramways. The first fleet of convicts to arrive in Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay were indeed delivered by the British cargo ship HMS Calcutta – an indicator of the linkage that Kolkata, Melbourne and Britain have shared through global movement.

Tramjatra builds friendship between Melbourne & Kolkata in new ways, through the medium of tramways. The friendship has grown much since 1996 when Melbourne conductor Roberto D’Andrea worked on Kolkata’s trams complete in a Melbourne tram conductor’s uniform, distributing free Melbourne tram tickets to a curious Kolkatan public. A number of installation exhibitions on service trams in Kolkata and Melbourne in the late 1990s generated much media attention and activated public debate about tramways in both countries. An increasing variety and number of participants and passengers have been drawn into engaging with a tramjatra, activated by numerous series of fictional tram tickets.

Just as the tram gathers together an intermixing of individuals from different social sectors, tramjatra gathers together a diverse collection of people and their ideas to facilitate a collaborative space for dialogue. A diverse collection of core participants have been gathered together by the project to create an inter-disciplinary and inter-cultural community of interest that includes tramways workers and management, creative practitioners (sculptors, filmmakers, painters, folk artists, designers and architects), social activists, scientists, engineers and business people. This tramjatra community gathered together for one month in Kolkata and then again in Melbourne in 2001 to produce temporary public events throughout both cities. These included sculpture and painting, tram exhibitions and film screenings, public forums and readings, a daily column in a daily newspaper, technical reviews of tramways and of course tram conducting and street performance. With a willingness to engage in the unique opportunities for dialogue, tramjatra seeks to extend us all beyond our current practices and understandings to open up the potential for ways that might produce a difference, both practical and artistic.

Tramways significantly contribute to the sense of identity of both Melbourne and Kolkata. The tram is often employed as an icon of these cities. This mode of mobility offers particular spatial experiences and types of social encounter as it establishes deep rhythms in the city amongst a diversity of transportation forms and architectural types. Whilst Kolkata is stereotypically depicted in international arenas as a heavily polluted and poverty-stricken city lacking cohesive planning, Melbourne, with its rationalist inner urban grid structure, has been tagged a ‘most livable’ city. Both cities are subject to political and commercial pressures that prevent tramways making their full potential contribution toward civic well-being. Mobilising tramjatra is the on-going exploration of the environmentally sustaining and culturally enriching potential tramways hold for their cities. Currently there is a lack of language and concepts that may be used to engage with and discuss the cultural and environmental advantages of tramways. Tramjatra utilises the communicative potential of art to incite a diversity of social actors to imagine how tramways and their cities might be otherwise.

A dialogue between Melbourne & Kolkata is that between two sisters born from the same imperial British parents within the shadow of a colonial past. The imperial parent appears absent in the conversation between sisters, but we know it is deeply inscribed. Through an exploration that draws together many threads from the fabric of each city, tramjatra might remain buoyant as a project difficult to reduce to traditionally defined outcomes, but resonant in its provocations to the imagination. Can we re-think anew how we move and are moved?

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['trambaby', Lisa Young, Kolkata]

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['tram pat', Moyna Chitrakar, Melbourne]

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['tramjatra tram', Jogi Panghaal & Suzie Attiwill, CTC staff, Greenwaves school children & Amanda King, Kolkata]

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['map', Jayashree Chakravarty, Kolkata]

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['jorano pat', Dukhushyam Chitrakar, Kolkata]

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['diamond cutter', Mark Misic, Kolkata]

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