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Vol. XXXIII No. 13, October 16-31, 2023

Bhin Bhini – Changing Climate, Uncertain Livelihoods’

-- by Thirupurasundari Sevvel

Beyond the Venue – 3 | An occasional series on art breaking boundaries in the city

Bhin Bhini – Changing Climate, Uncertain Livelihoods’ was an exhibit organized by the People Archive of Rural India. Curated by Krishnapriya CP, it was a documentation of climate change. As I walked towards DakshinChitra’s Vajra Art Gallery which served as the exhibit’s venue, I saw that the trees were wound with red threads. It was an arresting welcome to what would turn out to be an intense exhibit experience.

K. Deepika. The disappeared habitats, caution ‘DO NOT FLY HIGH’. Acrylic on Fiberglass; Thinking about the loss of sighting house sparrows in our neighbourhoods hopping around and chirping, Deepika metaphorically has sculpted a cluster of urban high rises emerging over the body of a dead bird, seen in the foreground.

Many Acts of Reading, a public-facing space. A reading room that assimilates the multitudes constituting the agrarian. Put together by the AgriForum, an ongoing platform hosted by FICA.

Selvam Palani (Connections); Metal nails, woollen thread, enamel paint on fiberglass.
Attempting to connect with the world around, both internally and through external forces, Selvam is drawing threads of connections between an ­inanimate sculpture embodying a human form and a small tree full of life.

Madhavan K. Destruction of resources (Stoneware). Thinking about the loss of agricultural land to real estate projects and urban development, Madhavan has used the fragile medium of ceramics to give shape to these concerns.

Nityanand Jayaraman, Vettiver Collective, Inkjet print on paper. A comparative map tracing urban development, as encroachments, slowly eating up local water bodies. A series of images of a 1970 map of Chennai, clearly outlines the Kodungaiyur Eri, Velachery Eri and neighbouring eries, the following set of 2015 Google satellite maps of the same location, superimposed with the outlines of the eries mark the unregulated expansion of the city. These maps were used for the investigations around understanding the 2015 Chennai flood, which was indeed called a ‘manmade disaster’.

As I entered the exhibit, I saw an exclusive, interactive reading room to the left, which featured artwork on agriculture during the pandemic – displays from the Agri Forum Exhibition organised by the Foundation of Indian Contemporary Art. The exhibit on the whole was quite sensory. Featuring multiple formats ranging from photo books and digital displays to art zones, photo decks, and darkroom experiences, it offered visitors a comprehensive and impactful experience. Curator Krishnapriya’s focus for the exhibit was on giving voice to stories with diverse perspectives, and the intent was reflected in the exhibit. There were paintings, heritage objects with displays, large photo prints, and even a printed textile presented as a forest ceiling, complete with auditory installations. The experiences were layered one after the other, some overlapping in a few instances. There were places that invited the visitors to sit and reflect on the sights and sounds. The exhibit asked many questions and conveyed many messages, but it all revolved around the collective narrative of respecting nature and the fellow beings we share the earth with, as well as the ripple effects of the imbalance we cause when we don’t.

An important exhibit, and a must visit experience.

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