The Palace of Plastic (Plastic Mahal) is a temporary public sculpture and political performance in the mode of a processional ritual that occurs in various sites across the city of Mumbai. The house is built from the city’s waste, which aggregates in the informal recycling centre in Dharavi’s 13thCompound.
The house of plastic is made in the collective mode of self-construction that is visible throughout the informal settlements of Indian cities. Built with and by those of the worker colonies, the house can be seen as a celebration of the livelihoods of all those working in Mumbai’s waste management chain and their handling of the city’s plastic waste. Whilst at the same time, challenge public perceptions of the politics of human disposability, advocating for the work of informal recyclers as essential and valued labour within wider systems of production.
The co-design and co-creation process takes place at the Compound 13 Lab, working with young people to explore issues of work, waste, survival and their social and political contexts. These issues are then enacted through the role of ritual and performance as dramatic means of collectively taking action, personal expression, instilling solidarity and creating visible issues that lie beneath plain site.
The project interacts with the lab by connecting recycled plastic to 3D printing workshops. Plastic objects created by the lab’s young members using 3D printing, extrusion machines and 3D printing pens will be added to the façade of the temple.