CHENNAI: As Chennai braces itself for monsoon, DakshinaChitra Heritage Museum makes conversations surrounding water the focal point of its two-day symposium. Thaneer! Thaneer! will be held on September 9-10 at the museum and will feature talks and documentary screenings on issues surrounding water, including water scarcity, depletion, and pollution. Adjoining the symposium will be an art exhibition featuring paintings, photographs and videos by artists Aparajithan Adimoolam, GS Bhavani and Parvathi Nayar.
Muhilann Murugan, programmes director at DakshinaChitra, says, “Water is a much-valued resource across all civilisations. A line from Thirukkural says that the world cannot survive without water. So we have organised two days of talks and panel discussions to change the perspective of people on issues surrounding water conservation.”
Talks and discussions
The event will begin with a keynote address by Prabir Banerjee, founder of PondyCan, a Puducherry-based organisation dedicated to preserving the natural, social and cultural environment in the Union Territory. The line-up of speakers includes S Jankarajan, president of the South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies (SaciWATERs), who will deliver a talk on the precarity of water resources; Mani Maaran, a scholar in Tamil from Saraswathi Mahal Library, Thanjavur, will deliver a talk on ancient water management systems in Tamil Nadu.
Throwing light on the issue of wetland management is a talk by Jayashree Vencatesan, trustee at Care Earth Trust. Nityanand Jayaraman, founder of Vetiver Collective, and Sara Ahmed, founder of Living Waters Museum in Ahmedabad, will also share their insights. “The core of these talks and documentaries will be centred on how water is a treasured resource in our world and how we can understand and nourish it. It will also shine a light on solutions to water crises like pollution, enhancing water quality, and understanding the water requirements of various sectors,” he added.
Movies and artwork
The event will also feature a selection of documentary films curated by RP Amudhan, founder of Marupakkam, who has made several documentaries on socio-political and environmental issues. Coral Woman by Priya Thuvassery follows Uma, a certified scuba diver exploring the coral reefs and the threat to their existence in the Gulf of Mannar.
Made over a period of six months, Shridhar Sudhir’s Moving Upstream: Ganga is a visual documentation of a 3,000-km walk across the Gangetic plain and the concerns of the riparian community. My name is Paalaru looks at the current state of what was once the perennial river Paalaru and is now desertified due to rampant sand mining.
For the art exhibition, Aparajithan has centred his work on the relationship between the sea and the blossoming of life on earth. The sea in his work also stands for human aspiration, ambition and despair. Multidisciplinary artist Parvathi’s series, done in graphite, encompasses water in all its aspects as part of the environment, as waterbodies, as a contested resource, as the source of fauna & flora, and as a substance of meditative and metaphorical power. A video installation by the Kodagu-based artist Bhavani traces the river Cauvery, from its origin in her hometown of Kodagu to its final assimilation into the Bay of Bengal. The exhibition will be on view till September 30.