An investigation into the lives of Mumbai’s homeless
WITHOUT WALLS looks at widespread homelessness, one of the most serious issues facing urban India today. Homeless men, women and children can be found sleeping along sidewalks, under flyovers, near transport stations and next to railway tracks. They face serious challenges in accessing basic and essential needs, including food, water, health services, education and shelter.
In many Indian cities, the majority of homeless are single, male migrants who come for economic opportunities, keeping close ties with their rural home base. However, in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, the situation is very different.
A large portion of Mumbai’s homeless are families who have lived on the streets their entire lives – even for multiple generations – with little or no connection to their rural origins. The reasons for becoming and staying homeless are myriad. People face abysmal conditions with a scarcity of shelters, rentals, and affordable, permanent housing options. A vicious cycle of rising prices, illiteracy, and low-level employment exacerbates Mumbai’s unique situation of intergenerational homelessness.
This exhibit takes us inside the overlooked lives of Mumbai’s homeless to understand their world, their work and the overwhelming challenges they face in gaining more equitable access to land, shelter and services. The project uses multimedia, photography and mapping to interrogate three key aspects of homelessness: lived experiences of Mumbai’s homeless women; livelihoods and the dignity of labor; and the physical space and its relationship to the infrastructure of the city.