Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Wash the waters

About an artist who is inspired by the Mithi River ...

Atul Bhalla belongs to the generation that falls on the crusp of India’s economic liberalization. Here was a lot that saw India’s socialist agenda conclude rather abruptly; a rapid two weeks after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, a new India began to unfold. To Bhalla, this new India has also transformed our environment into a junkyard.

In his first Bombay solo titled Remarking the River, Bhalla focuses on the Yamuna River, our capital’s version of the Mithi. Environmentally, the world is in its worst era currently, and nothing epitomizes this degradation more that our urban centres. Until 26/7 happened, there was no concept of Mithi as a river; it was a swamp that passed through Mahim with copious effluents to feed the Arabian Sea. Moreover, plans to reduce the degradation of our coastline by treating sewerage water will only materialise by 2025.

That doesn’t sound like a very urgent plan by any stretch.

Remarking the River is the artist’s attempt to re-establish a link with the Yamuna, to re-anchor a relationship with something as basic as water, an element that has been horrifically violated in our nation thanks to corporate greed and political corruption. Aside from photographs, installations features ‘plastic’ bottles made out of sand borrowed from the Yamuna and immersed into a water tank.

The artist’s photographs in a way celebrate the naivete of our relationship with nature, an instinctive reaction one would have to lakes, mountains, streams as we once knew them. In reclaiming his rapport with a defiled geography in such times, Remarking the River comes across as a meditative (even if somewhat haunted) response to the gravely endangered ecology of Hindustan.


Please contribute more such articles.
The Eco Responsive Team
ecoresponsive (at) aliagroup.com

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