Mumbai stands at a critical point in its history. Our rich ecosystems and unique biodiversity are under threat from unsustainable planning and rapidly growing emissions. Without them, we cannot survive. That’s why Mumbai’s Ministry of Magic, in association with DeadAnt, are proud to announce #BiodiversityByTheBay, a three-week digital arts festival that celebrates the Maximum City’s precious flora and fauna through comedy, music and design.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve been absolutely mesmerised by all things ocean. The vastness, the colours, the sheer amount of incredible beauty, intelligence and mystery that lie underneath.
Unfortunately, our rich ecosystems and biodiversity are under threat from unsustainable planning and rapidly growing emissions. The urgency to acknowledge the need for the protection of marine ecosystems in Mumbai is vital!”
Osheen Siva is a visual artist whose work revolves around themes of femininity, sexuality and gender, and their intersection with technology and society. Through the lens of surrealism, speculative fiction and science fiction, Siva imagines new worlds of post colonial dreamscapes, futuristic oasis with mutants and monsters and narratives of feminine power generally lacking in popular art and culture.
This piece by Osheen Siva is for #BiodiversityByTheBay, an ongoing three-week digital festival of the arts that celebrates Mumbai’s rich and diverse ecosystems through comedy, music and art.
Pia Alize Hazarika is an illustrator and designer primarily interested in comics and visual narrative. Her work has been published by Penguin India, COMIX.INDIA, Manta Ray Comics, Captain Bijli Comics, Yoda Press and the Khoj Artists Collective. Her critically acclaimed comic ‘Feminism AF: A Primer For Everyone’, co-created with illustrator Malathi Jogi, drew from their experiences organising legal aid and counsel for women who came forward during the #MeToo movement. She runs PIG Studio, an illustration-driven space, and bounces between New Delhi and Mumbai.
Here’s her piece inspired by the lungs of Mumbai: Aarey Forest.
Priyanka Paul aka @artwhoring is a 21-year-old self-taught illustrator and poet whose work revolves around themes of social justice, marginalisation and self-exploration. Her work has been featured in a number of national and international publications.
“The Koli fishing community has been hard hit by the Covid pandemic, coastal development, and industrial fishing industry. We must support the Koli fishing community’s livelihoods, which provide a sustainable alternative for fishing that will ultimately support our marine biodiversity!”
“ancestoral India knew what was worthy of worship- bark, leaf, root, shade, fruit, these sacred ones could turn light into life, bridge earth to sky.
shaded shrines were often nestled beside forests as reverant reminder that we are interconnected, breathing each other into every alchemical alveoli.
enlightenment is easy when you bow down and touch the feet of a being that has lived before you.
so bow down. remember. listen. breathe.
why choose isolation or a blinking screen when we could get intimate with another sentient being that promises to protect you, fill your belly and bends (leaf by leaf) to caress you.
now as we lose our breath- get intimate with an ancient one. We are forests.”
This artwork for #BiodiversityByTheBay by Shilo Shiv Suleman, an award-winning contemporary artist whose work lives and breathes at the intersection of magic realism, art, technology, and social justice. She has been featured on TED, BBC, Rolling Stone, MSNBC, Tech Crunch, The Guardian, WIRED, and has exhibited her work at the Southbank Centre in London and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
“I’ve always been interested in helping save our wildlife, so for #BiodiversityByTheBay, I decided to look towards the Lesser Flamingo for ideas. This artwork was inspired by terrariums for plants where entire ecosystems under threat run the risk of being reduced to souvenirs of a past we did not take seriously when we should have.”
Aaron Pinto is an illustrator, graphic designer and extreme metal drummer, Aaron Pinto also goes by the name Kidsquidy. He was previously senior designer at MTV India, and now works as an independent artist who focuses on music subcultures—from designing album covers and band merchandise for Indian artists to art direction and creating music videos.
“The Koli fishing community provides a sustainable alternative for fishing that will ultimately support our marine biodiversity, they have been hard-hit by the COVID pandemic, coastal development, and the industrial fishing industry. Here a Koli fisherman caresses a Lesser Flamingo to highlight the bond that they share supporting each other as a gesture to portray our human connection with nature. The Lesser Flamingos that flock to Mumbai every year must be protected, and their habitat preserved as they are a symbol of the city now.
Through this art, I want to evoke a sense of responsibility in people towards safeguarding these two beings as they embrace each other in solidarity.”
Mumbai-based designer and artist Smish Designs is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design, New York, best known for her socio-political resistance art, which she regularly posts on her instagram page @smishdesigns.
Designer and visual artist Mehek Malhotra draws inspiration from her everyday interactions, fleeting thoughts and sights from everyday life in Mumbai, all converted into thought provoking pieces. She’s the founder and CEO of design company Giggling Money Studio, and her work has been featured on multiple leading platforms in India.
This piece is called ‘Don’t Let Nature Down’.
“Flock You! 2020 has been a year of negatives but the lockdown also brought with it a few positives. People woke up to the beautiful site of a pink pond—a water body filled with hundreds of flamingos and it became an internet rage since this happened after many years. The overall decreased human activity led to the “lesser flamingos” flocking to the Mumbai wetlands. Due to the constant construction and increased noise levels, this species of flamingos which are natural to the Indian habitat had started migrating to other places. Their large feet help in oxygenation and mixing of organic material within the water bodies which aids in avoiding anoxic conditions and is essential for the eco system to thrive.
My illustration depicts how humankind has taken over the space meant for other beings and created a concrete jungle only for self-survival without understanding the negatives of the same on mankind itself.
This is my call to action to get the government to declare lesser flamingos as a protected species of Maharashtra. Keeping their habitats safe for them to breed and migrate to in turn helping our overall ecosystem. I have signed the letter, and you should too. It’s time to save our planet before it’s too late! Every small step and signature counts.”
—Aaquib Wani is an experiential designer with creative expertise in spaces, sets, visual and graphic design. The 30-year-old product of Delhi with deeply-rooted Kashmiri heritage has been able to use the best of both worlds for his design aesthetic. His studio, Aaquib Wani Design, has collaborated with a number of international brands and organisations including the United Nations, Adidas, Coca Cola, and PVR.
“The Lesser Flamingos that flock to Mumbai every year must be protected, and their habitat preserved—they are a symbol of the city now!”
Having worked across ad agencies and design studios for almost eight years, Shweta Malhotra branched out on her own and currently works as an independent graphic designer and artist. Her aesthetic is minimal, bold, and graphic, in response to the maximalist visual language prevalent in India.
“A fun conversation between a boy and a hermit crab.
The Hermit crab is a fascinating invertebrate that has adapted to occupy vacant shells as and when they grow in order to protect their fragile exoskeletons.
Just like the hermit crab, there are more than 300 species of flora & fauna in Mumbai’s marine ecosystem. Each one having an amazing story of its behaviour & life cycle.
These stories haven’t yet reached the people, specially the youth of Mumbai. Awareness should be spread in order to protect the marine ecosystem from reckless urban development. The ecosystem is the true treasure we all should cherish and protect. Mumbai should upgrade, sustainably & responsibly.”
Vinu Joseph is a political satirist, an independent journalist & video storyteller. He makes simple but quirky animations on socio-political topics that have made him quite popular on instagram @vinu.one.
The four hosts with the mosts of the award-winning (#DACA20 ‘Best Podcast by a Comedian’) comedy podcast ‘The Internet Said So’ kickstart Comedy Week of #BiodiversityByTheBay, our digital festival of the arts that’s been demanding your kind attention the last two weeks through comedy, music and design. All we ask is that you enjoy like anything. And then consider speaking up to protect Mumbai’s rich biodiversity and unique ecosystems by signing a letter (takes 30 seconds!) so that together we can ensure that the curious case of the flamingos at Sewri also remains its pride! Save the mangroves, protect the flamingo, and listen to these guys hilariously make sense of climate change around the world in this special episode of #TheInternetSaidSo.
FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, Jose Covaco goes LIVE with his wildly popular, entirely ridiculous ‘Misheard Lyrics’ series today at 8PM on YouTube @ hoezayC for #BiodiversityByTheBay. That’s right, we’re saving the flamingos and forests of Mumbai with songs you’ll never hear right again. Best not to ask any further questions.
Jose used to be on the radio, just like he used to be on TV, and now he’s all over the Internet. He also wrote a book in between? Whether you realise it or not, you’ve probably seen the Vines, looped the Misheard Lyrics, watched his dialogues with Arnab and considered his tech and gaming reviews almost as much as his Feelings (an online show that has a spin-off called ‘Feedback’ based on the comments he gets on Feelings… don’t ask). He won the DeadAnt Annual Comedy Award for ‘Funniest Person on the Indian Internet’ (2020) earlier this year and can be found @hoezaay across platforms.
Kolkata dream-pop duo Parekh and Singh sauntered onto the Indian indie scene in their trademark matching suits 11 years ago, and over the past decade the two have become a globally recognised pop act.
Nischay Parekh sings, plays guitar, keyboards and synths, while Jivraj handles drums, drum machines and effects. Together, the two make music of whimsical, magical beauty.
One of Mumbai’s most beloved singer-songwriters, Nikhil DSouza’s music has a distinctive alternative/pop/folk styling that is indebted to artists like Sting, Jeff Buckley and Radiohead. He’s performed at some of the biggest stages in the world, including the BBC Weekend Festival, The Great Escape and Live at Leeds. In 2019, he was selected as a headlining artist for NexaMusic – a nationwide talent hunt for English indie music fronted by A.R. Rahman.
Mumbai singer-songwriter Tejas has released two critically acclaimed albums, and has played to sold out shows at most major venues and music festivals in the country, including Bacardi NH7 Weekender, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival and VH1 Supersonic. Tejas’s music spans a variety of genres, including rock, funk, soul and electronica.
Anushka Manchanda, aka Nuka, is a music producer, playback singer, actor and celebrated Indipop artist based in Mumbai. Since her rise to fame at the age of 17 as a member of all-girl pop band Viva!, she has become something of a regular in Bollywood and other film music scenes, created synth-edged pop music that blends raw basslines with soulful Indian melodies as Nuka, and also made her mark as an actor, video editor and music label executive. This January, she released her first rap track ‘Ayo Burn’, featuring Kaam Bhaari, to critical acclaim.
A veteran of the Mumbai hip-hop scene, Deepa Unnikrishnan aka Dee MC has been turning heads with her independent releases, her film music compositions, as well as her sustained engagement with progressive NGOs and platforms. The emcee, who’s also the editor-in-chief of Indian rap blog Desi Hip Hop, will be joined by fellow Mumbai rap pioneer and frequent collaborator Vineet Nair aka Poetik Justis.
A producer and DJ based out of New Delhi, Gaurav Malaker (BLOT!) has mastered a warm, emotive sound that spans techno and the deeper side of modern house. What started as an audio-visual project in 2007 has become a live electronica act that straddles music and art, backed by distinct concepts, strong visual design sensibilities, original installation work and a strong touring ethic.