Ten thousand years ago, our human ancestors expressed their culture on cave walls of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh. They made paintings of animals, hunting-gathering events, dances and what not!
Community art has always been important for human civilizations to demonstrate their culture and generate a sense of togetherness. It refers to the practice of an art that is based in or generated in a community setting. It is a public commodity and differs from ‘individual’ art.
What if I tell you that the plastic water bottle you are about to throw in your dustbin now, can create spectacular community art? How about the idea of re-using the enormous waste that we humans are generating daily and converting it into something that enhances aesthetics of our society?
I would say that it’s possible to find an artistic solution to the waste disposal problem we are facing. Here are six interesting community art structures, made up of waste materials, from across India.
Made up of construction and demolition waste from around the city of Chandigarh, Indian artist Nek Chand Saini created hundreds of sculptures of animals, dancers and musicians, converting around five hectares of courtyard land into a rock garden.
The first of its kind open-air museum in India exhibits sculptures prepared from waste and carved by national and international artists. Some notable sculptures include those of the royal Bengal tigress, flying eagle, the bust of Lord Buddha.
Gadgets that we surround ourselves with do have become e-waste someday. Haribabu, originally from Kerala but currently living in Mumbai, since 1999, is into the full-fledged profession of making sculptures from e-waste. His work has been exhibited in reputed art galleries and even in Delhi’s T3 Airport. More about his journey of life and work can be found here.
Maharashtra State Innovation Society in collaboration with art based start-up Floating Canvas Company installed artwork made up of plastic bottles, a 27-feet-tall dark Spiderman, called the ‘plastic monster’. The artwork intends to spread awareness on the demerits of plastic pollution for human society.
Climate Conscious Network, a group of environment volunteers, collected waste plastic bottles from the seashore and riverside in Gujarat’s Surat. The water bottles were installed to display “Am I A Dustbin?”, and the message floated in the Tapi river for 8 hours on the occasion of Earth Day 2019. It was made to seem as if the river is posing this particular question to the citizens. It was an attempt to spread awareness to reduce water pollution. The bottles used in the structure were recycled later.
A toxic chamber (a large cave like structure), a giant hand, fish engulfing the pray: these were some interesting art installations made in Gurgaon, under a waste management awareness initiative by IAmGurgaon. Plastic bags, containers, cans, e-waste, were materials re-used to make the sculptures.
The facts and statistics on waste generation in India are alarming. Landfill sites are piling up and so are pollution levels. Solid waste generated every day amounts to more than 1.50 lakh metric tonne. The reduce-reuse-recycle principles are well known to environmentalists. In this context, I feel ‘community art’ can be a solution based on ‘re-use’ principle, and has potential to be an aesthetic value-addition to society.
Note: The author is part of the current batch of the Writer’s Training Program.