Waste High in Arthttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/waste-high-in-art/

Waste High in Art

Artist Anita Ahuja gives garbage a ‘greater purpose to fulfil’

Nikita Puri

Be it scraps of cloth,discarded labels from fancy international brands or unwanted tyre tubes,Delhi-based artist Anita Ahuja sees a potential in all of them. While used plastic often becomes her medium,superfluous bits of false leather become her canvas,and rusted cycle parts the skeletal structure in her installations. At an exhibition titled “At War,with the Obvious,” at India Habitat Centre,Ahuja introduces us to a world of upcycled beauty.

“Upcycling is not the same as recycling,” says the artist,“Upcycling is taking discarded items and adding value to them,giving them a greater purpose to fulfil.” The artist,who through her NGO Conserve,works with 300 ragpickers,talks about the increasing production of waste material,and how there’s no way out for it. “About 1,700 factories are coming up in the Bahadurgarh area in Haryana,and there’s no thought given to where all the discarded material from these factories will go to. Through Conserve,we ensure that we upcycle both municipal and industrial waste,” she says as she reaches for her handbag. A spacious beauty lit up with bright blues and yellows,her bag is crafted from discarded leather,and one of Ahuja’s lively designs have been printed on it. The small money purse in this bag

is multi-hued too,but the undertones

are more pastel. “That’s because the covering is bits of coloured plastic bags,” says the artist.


As she puts up 15 canvases,15 recycled artwork and one installation for display,Ahuja is all set for her first exhibition. “I’ll be taking this show,with a few additions,to London and then Germany in the coming months,” she says. One of the pieces on display,called Indian Godders,deals with the country’s fascination with religion and multiple gods. This one’s made out of tetrapak paper and scrape textile. In Cosmopolitan,multicoloured bottle caps are lined up to resonate the artist’s question — how do we put some method to the madness that the consumerist society has acquired?

If seeing is not enough,you can walk into Traffic,an installation made out of recycled tyre tubes and seatbelts. The plan is to add an audio component with blaring horns to give viewers a “true feel” of the installation. “This represents Delhi,from the outside it seems so nice and organised,but it’s only when you step in that you see the mess and the chaos — it’s all in the details,” says Ahuja. With a nice cushion and some kitschy truck art to it,even an old metal drum has donned the avatar of a fancy chair you can sit on. Doesn’t matter if you are fishing for ideas on what to with “waste” or consider it art for art sakes,this is one exhibition you should stop by.

“At War,with the Obvious” is on at IHC till December 4. Contact: 24682001