India, foreign artists join hands to raise environmental awareness

December 11th, 2008 - 12:08 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS) Art is set to go green with one of India’s biggest community art projects, 48°C, being undertaken in the national capital to raise awareness about the spectre of global warming. Spread across eight urban localities in Delhi, the Dec 12-21 project will be carried out by both Indian and foreign artists, including big names like Ichi Ikeda from Japan, Mary Miss from US and Delhi-based Subodh Gupta.

The project will engage common people in an artistic dialogue to highlight ecological degeneration in the capital through outdoor sculptures, video art, light shows, digital and interactive installations.

The aim, according to organisers, is to open up visual dialogue and forge a mass connect on environment with various groups of the society, including scientists, urban planners, ecologists, policy makers and the common people.

The festival has been designed to fit into the mosaic of the contemporary landscape and will be spread across eight locations - Roshanara Bagh, Kashmere Gate, Chandni Chowk, Ramlila Grounds, Connaught Place Inner Circle, Barakhamba, Jantar Mantar and Mandi House along the Delhi Metro route.

It is being organised by the Goethe Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan and German government-run international development enterprise GTZ with the support of the government of Delhi and the capital-based Urban Resource Group.

“The project will serve two purposes. It will highlight issues of environment like global warming, deforestation and extinction of species - where everybody is involved and where we are looking at ways not only communicate technically, but through works of art reaching out to people in a different manner,” Stefan Dreyer, South Asian region director of the Goethe Institut, told IANS.

Dreyer explained that every work of art appeals to individuals and a public art project reaches out to those segments of the society, which might not be regular visitors to museums and galleries.

“It is an experiment new to India but has a long tradition in Europe,” Dreyer said, citing the example of the Muenster sculpture festival in Germany, held every five years.

For 48°C, contemporary artist Vivan Sundaram is creating an installation with water bottles at Roshanara Gardens to convey the message of ecology and recycling.

“I need not drive home the message. People will realise the implications of my art by inference. The fact that issues are being raised is important,” he said.

“I am making a medicinal (ayurveda) garden on the grounds of Roshanara’s tomb. The tomb is a heritage site. In the 17th century, it used to be a garden, but now the area is barren. I want this site to become a place for the community to come together,” Miss said.

Her garden will display 100 ayurvedic plants with the names and properties listed on them.

“The exhibition is all about sustainability and I wanted to look at the issue in terms of sustaining health and well-being of individuals,” said the New York-based artist, who has been associated with public art for the last 35 years.

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