BENGALURU: This week, if you happen to go past Sampurna Montfort College on Old Madras Road, you’ll be sure to find a massive pair of lungs, and a woman wearing an air pollution mask while holding flowers, as traffic rushes past. This, is the latest project by city-based NGO Jhatkaa in collaboration with artiste Avril Stormy Unger, who is known for her performances in public spaces.
The aim of this project is to bring awareness on the health impacts of air pollution. Avijit Michael, executive director of Jhatkaa.org, says that they’ve been working on this particular campaign for some time now, and what they found was that not too many people are aware of just how harmful air pollution can be.
“People aren’t thinking too actively about this, and even if they are, they don’t know how much it is impacting their lungs. There is lots of medical research out there about how dangerous air pollution is, but getting people to realise the personal health impact was what we wanted to focus on,” he says.
Talking about the installation, Avijit says, “We were thinking along the lines of how cigarette packets have representational images of the impact of nicotine on the lungs. We thought we’ll do an experiment where air is sucked through filters, and see how long it would take for those filters to turn black. That led to the idea – these lungs have filters with exhaust fans at the back. So we’re actually going to see just how long it’ll take for the lungs to change colour - a few days or a month.”
Avijit hopes that this will spread awareness on the dangers of air pollution, and that people will think more consciously about it. “We also have an air quality monitor attached to the installation, and if you sign up, there is a missed call number that will give you updates, like we had done in Koramangala at the end of last year,” he says, adding that the longer term goal is to get more people involved in their campaigns.
Avril got on board when both parties found a close co-relation in the way in which they wanted to spread the message. She says, “I’ve been doing this piece for the last few years and I really enjoy working with the ideas of empathy and time. People are intrigued and find it more personal rather than when they see just a banner or a poster talking about the cause.
She adds that on the first day, she got mixed responses from passers by - some intrigued, some confused and some even amused, but believes that this personal connect helps in getting the message across when it comes to issues such as air pollution.