How to be a fig?

“Over millions of years Fig trees have shaped our world, influenced our evolution, nourished our bodies and fed out imaginations. The best could be yet to come. Fig trees could help us restore ravaged rainforests, stem the loss of wild species and even limit climate change. They could build vital bridges between scientific and faith- based world views. Their story reminds of what we all share. It warns us of what we all could lose.”  – Mike Shanahan

How to be a fig?
PC: Abhisheka Krishnagopal

Fig (Ficus) trees are considered keystone species in a rainforest as they sustain several lives – from birds, mammals to the tiniest of insects. They were around when dinosaurs roamed the earth and they continue to thrive in today’s modern world. Though Ficus is part of the cultural and social landscape, the ecological significance of these species is not widely acknowledged. The hidden flowers of the fig and it’s extraordinary relationship with the wasps are mysteries known only to a few. ‘How to be a fig?’ – this movement piece will aim to unravel the mystery of these magnificent trees. The artists will try to express through the human body the complex role that ficus plays in the ecosystem.

This project will also aim at creating awareness amongst the performing artists in understanding the science behind the concept.  Artists, especially dancers and musicians equipped with effective tools of expression are often oblivious to the ecological and environmental aspects of the real world.

PC: Nicole Dufour

Through this collaboration the performers will engage with a scientist specialising in the study of fig trees to understand the ecological importance of ficus, ensuring that the art work created, is a result of a symbiotic interaction between artists and ecologists. Often classical forms of dance in India use poetry to describe the beauty and cultural aspects of these trees. Unlike these forms that use language and story-telling to describe a concept in a literal way, Artecology will aim to capture the essence of the ficus using the body through space and time.

Science journals or publications are often inaccessible to many people because of the academic jargon. Specialization in their respective fields could easily disconnect the scientists from the public and render their science inaccessible to the general public. Through this collaboration, Artecology thrives to provide imaginative ways for ecologists, biologists and other scientists to be able to express their discoveries in artistic ways. We believe that by making arts accessible to scientists it would become possible to communicate a complex scientific concept in creative and engaging ways.

Learn about the people behind the project.



The performance ‘How to be a fig?’ was premiered at the Students conference on Conservation Science (SCCS) on 23rd September, 2017 at the J.N Tata Auditorium, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.


Watch the preview

Concept: Abhisheka Krishnagopal
Choreography: Veena Basavarajaiah
Text: Mike Shanahan
Narration: Vignesh Venkateswaran
Music: Tamara Montenegro
Design: Ipsa Jain                                                                                                                     Documentation: Priyanka Sacheti Mehta
Editors: Anu Mothi  & RaviShankar B T
Techincal support: Shreekanth Rao (Sound) & Vinay Chandra ( Lights)

Special thanks to Nandini Ram Mohan, Ravi Chari & Suma Hanumanthiah

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