Painting the Planet

anup dhar

What is it to paint the planet?

And not pass a dagger through the body of the planet?

Not mine – with a long spear.

Not make her mine. Mine and ‘make mine’. In a possessive masculine territoriality.

Hitherto, we have done agriculture – largely stemming from the enlightened human’s scientific relationship with soil and seed.

What would it be to return to cultivation? Cultivation – also – of the horizon of a relationship with soil-seed? With animals? Plants? With each other?

What is it to not keep scratching the surface of the planet with a tractor? Capitalism approaches the planet with a dagger and a spear.

What would be to relate to the planet with a paint brush?

This is not to take a deep ecology position. This is not to leave the planet untouched. With each breath we transform the planet. It is to approach the question of the transformation of the planet (as also of us) with a paint brush.

What would we do as a species? Shall we roam the planet with a dagger and a spear? Or with a paint brush? 

What would be an aesthetic – and not an extractive relationship with the planet?

Debt: The expression ‘Painting the Planet’ was birthed accidentally in a Community Economies session hosted by Bhavya Chitranshi. Swarnima Kriti was presenting her paper on the journey of Chinhari: The Young India in the session. She was showing how the young indigenous women associates of Chinhari – who come from largely forest societies – took to painting as a form of self-expression during Covid and how the paint brush and the canvas (and not just pen and paper) had become a form of aesthetic becoming for them. I had kind of blurted out this phrase ‘painting the planet’ as she showed the paintings to the participants. It appeared all of a sudden that the kind of cultivation practices (adim kheti) with indigenous seeds Chinhari was involved in was a kind of painting the planet.