Seema is secretly thrilled because she thinks her classmates are going to be envious. Having just finished her highschool exams, she knows all about the human immune system. The Immunity Wall is, however, nothing like what was shown in her textbooks. As one of the contributors to a participatory installation, Seema is intrigued by the materials they're using: an old bed, extruded plastic, woollen pompoms and plastic tubes. She can’t wait to show her school friends what she has made.
The Immunity Wall is an abstraction of the human body’s vigorous germ-fighting system and draws on electron micrograph images of immune cells. It illustrates our defences against microbes and foreign bodies and calls to mind the archetypal fight between good and evil. Despite the seemingly sober nature of the immune system’s handling of germs, the piece is a vivid assembly of pieces of extruded plastic. These gobbets are a common find in recycling units in Dharavi's Sanaullah Compound, and their brain-like formations and glossy coating make some people queasy and others curious. At Dharavi workplaces, the vibrant blobs are shredded into particles for repurposing by larger factories. The Immunity Wall recycles the plastic along with the old bed to discuss the way in which the body renews its immune system constantly to keep itself healthy.
At the other end of the knowledge spectrum from Seema were participants who were at primary school and had barely heard of the immune system. The workshops introduced them to ideas about physiology and immunology that may resonate in later years. A fun and tactile approach to understanding more about bodily mechanisms, the Immunity Wall is an art installation that could double up as a science exhibit.
Manish Sonawane, Vandana Jethva, Yashvi Jethva, Renuka Pardesi, Seema Kunch, Shweta Katke, Pooja Kharatmal, Neha Jogdhar, Manisha Kadayat, Sandhya Kamble, Shantidevi Jaiswar, Jyoti Yadav, Shakuntala Jaiswar, Deepali Yadav
Dr Yojana Gokhale, Associate Professor, Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital