Discarded wrappers show how nations link globally
Delhi-based American artist Zachary Becker has salvaged used packaging material to create 11 flags of countries belonging to emerging `BRIC` economies – Brazil, China, India and Russia as well as of the US.
"It is a sort of dialogue between world players," says Becker who is exhibiting his modern visual art at the American Center here. The exhibition is supported by Ojas Art.
The 23-year-old artist a native of Davenport, Iowa says he hit upon the project idea making flags by pure fluke.
In 2009, while pursuing a music course in trumpet performance, he purchased tons of plastic packaging from a garage sale, with no idea of what to make of it. Later, he says he started making flags out of them.
"I didn`t have any idea when I actually started making flags out of the packaging. The thought came somewhat impromptu and I began creating flags specifically of the US," Becker told PTI.
The artist says after getting to know that the packaging he bought was intended to be sent to India and China for recycling and then shipped back to the US, he wanted to explore the process and landed up in India with the help of the US Embassy.
"I just followed the passage to India, to Old Delhi. Here I found that often the recycling process is disrupted and the material is creatively repurposed into bags for shops or is used by homeless for shelter and all sort of other purposeful stuff."
"So I see the flags as a continuation of that very local Indian practice of creatively repurposing the packaging material," says the artist who has used local Indian discarded wrapping to create the colours of the Indian flag.
One of the Indian flags has its saffron and green strip made out of empty packages of a branded chilly and coriander powder while the white strip is formed by discarded packaging of a branded tea.
The exhibition also displays a series of self photographs of Becker engaged in different activities across Delhi, by which the artist says he tries to reflect the confluence of different economic classes in the city.
While one photo shows him working as a rickshaw puller another portrays him as a scrap scavenger.
"There are two over arching themes to the show. One a sort of globalisation and east-west divide while the other is the idea of global vs local. The flags are shiny plastic made to sell consumer products, for people who have money to buy food and things. The photographs show distinct reality of life in Delhi," explains Becker.
Michael Pelletier, Minister for Public Affairs and Public diplomacy, US Embassay says "We generally tend to look for any opportunity, particularly art, that highlight India and US working together where they emphasise a sort of cooperation or partnership between the two and this exhibition highlights the same."
The exhibition that would culminate at the American Center on July 30 is scheduled to continue a the Ojas Art gallery here till August 28.