An artistic call for blue skies

Using art as a medium to address the issue of receding air quality, KHOJ International Artists’ Association Khirkee Extension, has unveiled an art project titled ‘Does the Blue Sky Lie?’.
Image from the inauguration of ‘Air Expo:2022’;
Image from the inauguration of ‘Air Expo:2022’;

The toxic air pollution levels in the Capital has been a long-standing problem. While every now and then, the situation worsens leaving citizens gasping for fresh air, the air quality in Delhi remains poor around the year. This situation has had little change despite interventions from both government-led as well as by citizen groups. Using art as a medium to address the issue of receding air quality, KHOJ International Artists' Association (KHOJ), Khirkee Extension, has unveiled a project titled ‘Does the Blue Sky Lie?’. The first episode of this three-part series, Air Expo 2022, was inaugurated at Select Citywalk, Saket, on Thursday. A public art project, this expo strikes important dialogue about the quality of the air around us and prompts one to think about the air we breathe. The project in its entirety is an attempt to raise awareness among masses about air pollution. “One question we always ask is ‘Can art bring social change?’... One doesn’t necessarily think about air when we talk about ecology but it is very much a natural system that our lives and bodies intersect with. For us, this project came into being because, as Delhi inhabitants, struggling with bad air ourselves, we wanted to mobilize attention towards the issue and see how art could drive change,” shared Niyati Dave (29), curator, KHOJ.

Creating art for change

This expo comprises interactive works of art as well as a few games that creatively engage with pertinent questions surrounding ecology and human intervention. ‘Adopt a Piece of Sky’ by ThinkArts, a Kolkata-based NGO, showcases a series of images of the sky clicked by teenagers across the country. These photographs prompt one to understand their relationship with the sky. Visitors can also “adopt a piece of sky” and make a pledge towards clean air. Photographer Sharbendu De’s ‘An Elegy for Ecology’ ruminates over global warming. His photographs imagine a future where humankind has to cope with excessive heat and lack of oxygen. On the other hand, artist Gigi Scaria has created an immersive experience in his project ‘Elevator from a No Man’s Land’, wherein viewers get to experience ‘a suffocating reality’. Talking about his project, Noida-based Scaria shared, “I have created an elevator with a different idea earlier. When I was approached for the art expo, I thought maybe I could revisit the elevator with a different content. It [the project] has a deep understanding of where exactly it is happening and each and every layer of exploitation caused on earth.”

Artist duo Thukral and Tagra, comprising Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra have created a four-player game ‘2030-Net Zero’ that seeks to build environmental consciousness among the players. Addressing the reason behind choosing a card game as a medium to take forward their idea, Sumir Tagra, explained, “We have been working on the climate and finding ways to engage people to take action. We both thought that we don’t have time to wait around for something to happen but it is more to do with the individual, to begin with. We wanted to create a more porous object that goes around rather than a painting, going and seeing in a gallery. We wanted to use the game as a medium.” Another game ‘Dhuaandil’ developed by Bengaluru-based NGO, Fields of View, puts citizens in a place of decision making where they get to take ownership and take action to build their own sustainable city. Bhagwati Prasad’s ‘Dumm’, a live art-making performance enhances the idea further. Through his work, Prasad delves into the interconnectedness of air, life, and human actions.

While the expo will continue till April 29 and the second episode of the project, an exhibition will commence from April 27. The project also comprises a few interactive lecture series with experts for individuals looking to delve into the issue in more detail.

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The New Indian Express