Sustainability is the central theme at this year’s India Art fair, which returns as an on-ground event after a gap of two years
An electric art car, a facade to be repurposed and artists reflecting on climate change – looks like sustainability will rule the roost in the upcoming India Art Fair to be held at the NSIC grounds in Okhla, Delhi. The event, which is returning as an on-ground activity after a gap of two years, will pay special focus to sustainability and celebrate contemporary visual arts from South Asia.
Brimming with activity
The NSIC Grounds in Okhla is a hub of activity with trade shows, music concerts and various other industry events taking place at regular intervals – of course during the pandemic the place did become rather quiet.
As for the India Art Fair (IAF), sustainability has always been a way of working. For years, it has recycled the foundation and base structures of the exhibition tents used in the other events that have occurred at NSIC Grounds. It reuses the wooden platforming and booth walls. According to Jaya Asokan, Fair Director, Sustainability is a priority taken into consideration by IAF right from planning of the fair to executing it. “The modular and prefabricated structures, flooring and walls make up approximately 80 per cent of the build, all of which are reused.”
This year, the fair has done away with physical passes and instead issued digital passes and tickets.
Repurposing the facade
The IAF will repurpose the flex fair facade created by artist Anshuka Mahapatra. It plans to send the flex of the facade to a processing unit in Sarita Vihar in Delhi, where it will be cleaned and repurposed into roofs for urban shelters and upcycled products such as bags, folders, mats, as well as flex pouches.
BMW's car wrap created by an Indian artist
Art cars have been a regular feature at the IAF. Each year, BMW, a luxury car brand from Germany, brings a car from its Art Car collection, painted by iconic artists, to be exhibited at the IAF. This year, BMW, the fair’s presenting partner, conceived The Future Is Born Of Art commission. It was awarded to an Indian artist Faiza Hasan to design the car wrap for BMW’s first fully electric (SUV) vehicle in India BMW iX.
Reflecting on ‘Sustainable Circularity’, which is the philosophy behind the electric car, Faiza brings together sustainability and community in her design.
“The wrap attempts to explore sustainability through community. And how, in the aspiration for sustainability, it becomes necessary to listen to and accommodate the needs of a broad range of people and communities. The work alludes to the relationship between social justice and environmental sustainability,” explains Faiza.
The design features faces of people from different communities and also words like suno meaning to listen; tasawur meaning ‘to imagine’, “umeed” meaning hope, and “nigehbaan” meaning ‘to safeguard’.
“The monochromatic drawings on the car wrap root from my own practice. These try to represent a sort of gathering — or coming together — against the backdrop of a common sky. The design integrates gilding and Urdu typography. Gilding has been an integral part of my drawing practice and is often a means of mending as well as embellishing for me,” she adds.
Among other sustainable measures taken by IAF include the use of biodegradable utensils and materials, electrical appliances instead of conventional open-fire or LPG cylinders and a robust onsite waste management system enabling proper segregation of plastic and biodegradable waste.
Voice of Climate Change
A pressing concern like climate change finds resonance across the art fair. “As a fair, we place the artists’ voice at the centre of all our programmes, many of whom tackle ecological and environmental themes which are both local and global concern,” says Asokan.
A number of artists and art projects at the fair are addressing climate change in myriad ways.
As a collateral event of IAF, Delhi-based Khoj Studios is exhibiting its project “Does The Blue Sky Lie?” which deals with Delhi’s toxic air. It features works by artists like Thukral & Tagra, Hanna Husberg, Abhishek Hazra, Achia Anzi, Gigi Scaria among others.
“It draws attention to our bodies and their communion with the atmosphere through breath, to the systems and structures of power and capital that cause ecological toxicity, to the interconnectedness of natural systems across time and geographies, and to speculative imaginings of futures in the face of the climate crisis: both hopeful and bleak,” says Niyati Dave, Curator and Programme Manager, Khoj.
Kolkata-based Gallery Experimenter is showcasing Plight of hardship II, 2021, an acrylic work by artist Prabhakar Pachpute. As an artist who grew up in Sasti, a coal-mining region in Maharashtra, Prabhakar examines land, labour rights, state and ecology, through the lens of mining.
Narayan Sinha has fashioned a sculpture employing old silencer pipes called ‘Engulf’, which reminds the viewer of the noxious fumes it releases into the atmosphere. These entangling, intertwining pipes appear ominously engulfing as if hinting at all the gloom around us – the pandemic, global warming and wars but from a different perspective. It is a beautiful piece of art with all elements sitting in perfect harmony.