River Yamuna, theme of unique art project

New Delhi: A group of Indian and German artists has chosen the river Yamuna for a unique multimedia art outreach project that seeks to raise issues like river sustainability, environmental degradation and water pollution.

The "Yamuna-Elbe: Public. Art. Outreach project is part of the "Germany and India 2011-2012 Infinite Opportunities" programme organised jointly by the city of Hamburg, Max Mueller Bhavan and the Delhi government.

The project, that began on October 16 and will go on till October 23 to in Hamburg is scheduled to be held from November 9 till November 23 at the Golden Jubilee Park, near the old Yamuna Bridge here.

Co-curated by artist and practicing environmentalist Ravi Agarwal as well as Till Krause, a land artist from Germany, the project would see both German and Indian artists install their works along the banks of Yamuna. "Both the Elbe and the Yamuna are central to Hamburg and Delhi?s futures. The collaborative project is centred on the idea of creating ecological sustainable rivers in cities," says the curator Agarwal.

The project will be an eco-friendly one with the use of solar energy for power requirements and electrically operated vans for transport to site and usage of recyclable material for production of artworks. "We need to rethink ecology and rivers in the 21st century where questions about human sustainability and futures have become key. Art is the framework which allows diverse ideas and imaginations to co-exist and helps in repositioning ourselves in relation to nature," says Agarwal.

Aggarwal adds "The river is not only `polluted` or `clean,` but is a beautiful landscape of the city, with many layers of aesthetic, social and political meanings."

Delhi based artist Atul Bhalla says he will engage local villagers to create small wells that will connect to the river water table out of reeds and local grass. "Each tent shall have a question as an LED running text.
As onlookers enter each tent they will be faced with a question about themselves, the river and the city," says Bhalla who has previously explored the physical, historical, spiritual and political significance of the water to the urban environment and the population of his city.

Another artist Asim Waqif is creating "Jumna`s Satyagraha" from the remanants of the pontoon bridge at Raj Ghat. He will make a giant island using the pontoons as floats. With "the Fountain of Purification" a drinking water fountain, artist Gigi Scaria proposes to draw the viewer`s attention towards the "painful truths of migrancy and displacement." Indian artist Sheba Chhachhi and Nana Petzet and Jochen Lempert from Germany with contributions from Vivan Sundaram and Till Krause are those participating here.

The outreach programme is also targetted at school children along with river walks, public discussions , films and musical concerts centred around the river Yamuna.