From the Protests and Marches series, this piece reimagines the route of the 1930 Salt March in India, an act of civil disobedience led by Mohandas Gandhi to protest British rule in India.
Britain’s Salt Act of 1882 prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt, a staple in their diet. Indian citizens were forced to buy the vital mineral from their British rulers, who, in addition to exercising a monopoly over the manufacture and sale of salt, also charged a heavy salt tax. Although India’s poor suffered most under the tax, all Indians required salt. Defying the Salt Act, Gandhi reasoned, would be an ingeniously simple way for many Indians to break a British law nonviolently. Gandhi declared resistance to British salt policies to be the unifying theme for his new campaign of “satyagraha,” or mass civil disobedience.
On March 12, 1930, Gandhi set out from his ashram at Sabermanti with several dozen followers on a trek of some 240 miles to the coastal town of Dandi on the Arabian Sea. There, Gandhi and his supporters were to defy British policy by making salt from seawater. All along the way, Gandhi addressed large crowds, and with each passing day an increasing number of people joined the salt satyagraha. By the time they reached Dandi on April 5, Gandhi was at the head of a crowd of tens of thousands. He spoke and led prayers and early the next morning walked down to the sea to make salt.
He had planned to work the salt flats on the beach, encrusted with crystallized sea salt at every high tide, but the police had forestalled him by crushing the salt deposits into the mud. Nevertheless, Gandhi reached down and picked up a small lump of natural salt out of the mud—and British law had been defied.
At Dandi, thousands more followed his lead, and in the coastal cities of Bombay (now called Mumbai) and Karachi, Indian nationalists led crowds of citizens in making salt. Civil disobedience broke out all across India, soon involving millions of Indians, and British authorities arrested more than 60,000 people. Gandhi himself was arrested on May 5, but the satyagraha continued without him.
The circle at the top of this piece represents the ashram where the march began, and the circle at the bottom marking Dandi on the coast is where Gandhi committed the act of civil disobedience by evaporating sea water to make salt. The height between the 2 points is 5 feet, 3 inches, the height of Gandhi himself. In person, it actually seems much taller--Lordy’s way of expressing Gandhi’s larger than life presence and global influence.
Lordy has 355 colors of ink markers. He’s assigned each color a number and uses a random number generator to determine which colors to use for each concentric square in the background. Individual colors repeat, but the combination and order of colors are unique to each square. The colors that are common between the squares represent characteristics that might be attributed to more than one person, but the squares are each distinctive — like the people that made up the march. Gandhi had selected 78 people to begin his march with him. Among them were people of every religion, caste and region of India — a statement of unity against colonial rule amongst an incredibly diverse population.
Every other square is drawn without the use of a straight edge. The two types of squares represent the 2 nations that came out of partition — India and Pakistan.
The particular yellow color used to define each of the village stops and the border that frames the drawing is the same color that was used to paint the original Black Lives Matter mural on the street in Washington DC.
India finally was granted its independence in 1947.