July 30, 2010 2:07:38 am
Sometimes,irony is the best way to drive home a point. So,while eco-warriors and corporates with a conscience make popular the slogan Go Green,a handful of artists are taking the reverse route to express their angst and political concerns. UK-based artist Vinita Khanna shredded plastic bottles to create sculptures while Khalil Chishti rolled plastic bags into tortured forms. The reviled plastic has become a medium of choice for artists sending out hard-hitting messages about the environment. I never have to worry about the longevity of my sculptures because plastic takes years to bio-degrade, says Khanna acidly. She is part of an ongoing group exhibition Going Going Gone at Gallery Espace.
Chishti,who has a solo show coming up at Gallery Seven,was moved to work with plastic after a visit to New York where he witnessed plastic bags outnumbering people. The Delhi-based Atul Bhalla has been engaged with the politics of plastic since the early 1990s. His solo exhibition Remaking the River,that showed in Delhi and Mumbai in 2008,dealt with the environmental degradation of the Yamuna. He is currently working on a theme involving holy water being handed out in plastic bottles at sites like Rishikesh and Hardwar. I am focusing on the 1litre bottles used to take away holy water. I have sculpted an enlarged bottle,using waste wood,and titled the work Nothing Reached Home, says Bhalla about the 5x3x4 ft work. The wood was collected from discarded door frames and it is a double remark on how the holy water is travelling all over the place in plastic bottles instead of reaching the trees which are also being hacked mercilessly. In another project,involving the ghats of Patna,he floated words carved from plastic in the water.
New York-based artist-curator Jane Slade,whose work is a reflection of just one year of her visit to India,has also tapped into the idea of using recycled plastic to create art. My lighting installations use plastic bottles through which I try to convey a range of emotions like love,desire and anger, says Slade,who calls herself an environmental designer and is currently showing at Paint Brush and Chisel in Delhi. Her works involve re-using discarded plastic to create lighting fixtures that give out a variety of coloured lights to express emotions like anger and love.
I am not sure that in each case where artists have employed plastic,it is an environmental statement. It is also about the textures of everyday life that reflects contemporary urban deficits, says art critic Ranjit Hoskote. These tropes refer to waste and recycling modes by which we conduct our lives socially and politically, he concludes.
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