June 14, 2024

Two Delhi artists lead a community art exhibit to highlight air pollution | Delhi News

While travelling through the narrow lanes of Nand Nagri, one would not usually expect to stumble upon an art exhibition put up by women residents. But this is what made ‘Hawa Mein Baat’ unique.

Around 20 women from Nand Nagri, led by artists Niroj Satpathy and Moumika Bhasak, participated in workshops and went to create art using waste materials such as cloth, ropes, threads among others to create awareness for air pollution, a dialogue that they are usually excluded from as a part of the informal economy (rag-pickers, construction workers, house helps etc).

Moumika Basak, a 27-year-old visual and textile artist, said that she and Niroj, along with the Help Delhi Breathe campaigners, conducted workshops four days before the exhibition, which was held on May 17 and 18. The second exhibition in the series will be held in North-west Delhi’s Bhalswa on June 1 and 2. “The workshops entailed discussions with the women, hearing their stories, and then creating artwork around that,” said Basak, who added that she wanted to create art that would help narrate their vision and reflect their surroundings. Both the artists trained 20 women and then divided them into four groups. Each group worked on one art piece.

This has resulted in four art pieces – Shehri Hawa (City Air), Gehri Saans (Deep Breaths), Kadwa Sach (Bitter Truth), and Mehengi Hawa (Costly Air), all symbolising the struggles with air pollution and women’s strength. The pieces depicted women as goddesses to show mother nature alongside obvious symbols for air pollution including heart, lungs, and trees and featured texts embroidered next to them. Shudh hawa, humare bacchon ke liye (Clean air, for our children), one of them read, besides Humne dekha tha neela aasman par ab kaha hai? (We have seen the blue sky but where is it now) reflecting the women’s daily lives and their connection to the environment.

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Satpathy, who works extensively with materials and objects, highlighted the power of art to give voice to unheard experiences. “This is completely a community art project. These women have materialised their stories through art and created something amazing,” said Satpathy.

A survey by Help Delhi Breathe revealed that over 90 per cent of Delhi’s informal workers fear the health and livelihood impacts of air pollution. Thus, ‘Hawa Mein Baat’ served as a platform for these women to share their stories and perspectives, often missing from the air pollution discourse.

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Gurpriya Singh, a campaigner with Help Delhi Breathe, said that the exhibit includes reflections on some pertinent themes. “The nature of the private space within the city’s urban landscape, climate change and its relationship with people, plastic and waste as juxtaposed with nature and simpler times, the essence of freedom for women within the family and society, landfills as data centres of the city, among others. Women engaged in home-based work, waste picking and domestic work found an outlet through textile art, object collection and poetry, bringing forth the often intangible and unsaid parts of living under polluted skies,” said Singh.

The exhibition aims to raise awareness and urge the public to acknowledge the unequal burden of air pollution on marginalised communities. Apart from the textile-based artwork, the exhibition also featured other elements like a video showing the workshops, soil collected from different homes, a picture gallery, and a cotton cloth that was kept outside for a month to showcase the adverse effects of air pollution.

© The Indian Express Pvt Ltd

First uploaded on: 30-05-2024 at 23:34 IST

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