Zameendari Zimmedari: From Land Ownership to Responsibility
Publication by Alex White-Mazzarella, Namrata Mehta and Soaib Grewal


After receiving a Negotiating Routes: Ecologies of the Byways grant for their project ‘Reconciling Ecologies in the Millennium City’ in 2013, collaborators Alex White Mazzarella, Namrata Mehta and Soaib Grewal have released an associated publication entitled ‘Zameendari Zimmedari: From Land Ownership to Responsibility’ in July 2015.

In March 2013, Alex White Mazzarella, Namrata Mehta and Soaib Grewal entered Tigra, a traditional village that has been standing for seven generations in what is today Gurgaon. Tigra and its agricultural land were slowly being encroached upon by immense economic pressures, high-rise developments, and the arrival of a new lifestyle. Over the course of the month they listened to local’s stories and experiences, created spaces and events for open discussion and activities where stories and sentiment could be shared amongst residents. These conversations bore witness to accounts of community, power, culture, and values as they collide and change, now documented through rich visual ethnography, artwork and writing in a book brought together by the trio, tracing the path from Zameedari to Zimmedari.

Alex White Mazzarella, Namrata Mehta and Soaib Grewal came together almost as a way of joining the dots. They work as a multidisciplinary team with varied experiences in design, research and social art practices. While Namrata and Soaib have often been brought together by their common interest in engaging with the everyday experiences of living in Gurgaon, Alex brings to the collaboration an experience of community based art practices in India and other parts of the world. Together they engaged diverse communities and ecological issues in an attempt to reconcile ecologies in the millennium city.

The first edition was launched on July 15, 2015 @ Khoj International Artists Association in part to celebrate 5 years of the Negotiating Routes program under which this work was created.

Here is an article by the author trio that outlines the project more detailed.


Cover designed by Iandry Randriamondroso, hand printed by Namrata Mehta & Soiab Grewal
Semi-gloss colored printing, 79 pages
Price: 20 USD$
The book can be purchased here.

Review by Shriya Malhotra, Partizaning – Participatory Urban Replanning

“I think this is a very valuable work for social practice and DIY urbanism in India! From Landownership to Responsibility : Zamindari to Zimmidari is a thought-provoking ethnography which documents community art interventions in the urban village of Tigra. It is useful to a cross-section of audiences, primarily for highlighting urban india’s often unique and rapidly transforming ecosystems. It makes a very useful contribution to the emerging discourse of DIY urbanism, civic arts and of socially engaged arts—and the value and limitations of creating ‘change’. The story of Tigra, tucked away amidst the malls and highways of Gurgaon, encourages us to rethink the relationships of art and the public, and of urban interventions in different contexts. Finally, the project is a reminder to practitioners of the possibilities and limitations of cross disciplinary, cross-cultural collaboration.”


Alex White-Mazzarella is the Founding Director of Artefacting. An artist, urbanist & facilitator, he sparked Artefacting as an initiative geared towards utilizing art, collaboration and positivity as means of building community and engaging the pressing social and cultural issues of local communities. With courage, multiculturalism and global insight in hand, Alex is passionate about bringing diverse audiences together.Through Artefacting he conducts artistic interventions from the inside of a community out to spawn fresh perspective and boost social cohesion. He has successfully led nine collaborative-based projects in three continents.
He received his BA in economics at Clark University (2002) MA studies in Urban Planning & Architecture at Portland State University and Postgraduate Studies in Urban form and Territory at Universidad Politecnica de Catalunya Barcelona. He developed and realized the Central Waterfront Planning and Design Competition as the Program Manager of Designing Hong Kong before moving to New York to turn his attention to artwork, painting under Hugo Bastidas, Phillip Sherrod and Larry Poons at the Art Students League. His work is in private collections in the USA, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway and India and he exhibits regularly in New York City. 

Here is another contribution by Alex White-Mazzarella.

Namrata Mehta is an artist, designer and researcher, with an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Delhi University, and a postgraduate diploma in Experimental Media Arts, from the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore. Her work combines tactical media art practices with social research methodologies to engage with people about the experiences of everyday life. Projects that she has worked on address issues of waste management (S-M-mess, 2008), gender violence (NewPapers, 2009), urban growth (The Object of My Extension, 2010 and Everyday Places, Everyday Traces, 2011) and public transport (101 Reasons Why I Love the Delhi Metro, Ongoing).
At the Center for Knowledge Societies (CKS), where Namrata is a design researcher, she works closely on technology and infrastructure projects related to ‘mobilities’ in both urban and rural contexts. These range from mobile as well as telecommunication technologies, portable diagnostic devices and transport solutions. Prior to CKS, at the Center for the Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CStep), she developed games as a research tool for policy makers in the agricultural and urban infrastructure sector. At present, Namrata is occupied with observing and capturing culture in and around the Delhi Metro, realising the potential for ICT based service delivery in urban slums, and wondering who and where her next postcard is coming from.

Soaib Grewal is a designer, strategist, urbanist and entrepreneur. His work is based on using innovation, digital technology and a user centered approach to deal with issues of development, urbanization, policy, economics and service systems. He has created a professional practice that helps organizations engage with their stakeholders by adopting design and agile practices. Soaib sits on the executive committee of G5A (part of the Mohile Parikh Center) an organization committed to developing a more inclusive and livable city, through fostering creativity and resilience. He holds a Bachelors in Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design.
In 2010 he co-founded WaterWalla an organization committed to creating solutions to the Urban Waterproblem in India. He led the groups Dharavi based research lab, working closely with slum based entrepreneurs and community groups. Before returning to India he worked closely with designer Dror Benshetrit developing sustainable housing models. His project work has included design based solutions to stimulate sustainable economic growth in rural Alabama, strategies to further craft traditions in Ghana, India and the United States as well thesis work examining the role and form of public spaces in activism and civic discourse. Currently he is writing a group of essays on public policy and its relationship to urbanism and entrepreneurial ecosystems.



All material was provided by Alex White-Mazzarella.
The work was submitted by Alex White-Mazzarella on 27 October 2015.


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