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Max Mueller Bhavan | India Mumbai

New Natures© Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

New Natures: A Terrible Beauty is Born

“New Natures: A Terrible Beauty is Born” curated by Ravi Agarwal is the next iteration of State of Nature – a project initiated by Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai in 2018 that brings together multiple perspectives to understand and address our present ecological crisis. This exhibition is a proposition to rethink the world as we know it today. As Curator of Literature, Ranjit Hoskote has conceptualised a programme consisting of prominent writers, poets, and essayists that intervenes the exhibition.

Participating artists: Arunkumar H G, Gigi Scaria, Gram Art Project, Himali Singh Soin, Ishan Tankha, Karan Shrestha, Navjot Altaf, Parag Tandel, Paribartana Mohanty, Prabhakar Pachpute, Rajyashri Goody, Ranbir Kaleka, Rohini Devasher, Sahej Rahel, Sharbendu De, Sonia Mehra Chawla, Tanmoy Samanta

About the Exhibition

“All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born” 
[Easter, 1916. The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)]

Climate change, environmental destruction, species extinctions, now increasingly common terms, are symptoms of a deeper planetary emergency. At its root lies an historical alienation from nature, which converted lived nature relationships to an abstract idea of separateness. Nature’s commodification converted its polyphonic values to a singular monetary one. A hyper-real metaverse technoshpere has further reduced complex ecosystems to mere data. Extractive, capital-technology driven economies – propelled by colonization and thoughtless industrialization – have caused planetary limits to be exceeded and have catapulted us into the Anthropocene. The recent zootonic viruses are a ‘phenomenon’ produced by the ‘intra-acting’ (in Karen Barad’s terms) networks of capital and its institutions, and harbingers of unfolding perils. Alongside, the entangled worlds of culture and nature, which we have gloriously inhabited for long are facing erasures. Recovering a heterogeneity of nature-cultures, not as a binary but as “culture enclosed in nature, (and) nature reworked in culture…” (A.K Ramanujan) is already a radical task today. Also, as biogenetics reveal, we are all but assemblages, who have co-evolved with other beings. We need to urgently find ways to embrace humbler, more inclusive existences with the more-than-human world.

This exhibition is a proposition to rethink the world as we know it today. It is a conversation between different artistic positions and their reflections on the worlds they inhabit. It hopes to help invoke an ethics of healing, care, and responsibility. The artists and thinkers presented here have had long practices embedded in questions of nature. They search beyond disciplinary boundaries, to unearth relationships which form identity, language, politics, livelihoods, and worldviews. In doing so, they show how nature is being constantly ‘produced,’ through everyday local and situated knowledges, concerns, and struggles- presenting a counter narrative to its homogeneous and totalizing idea. They reveal the way we are, the way we have come to be, and the way we could be, in this viscous lava of precarious reformulations. As intimate listeners and makers of their worlds, they are harbingers of new futures.

Ravi Agarwal

Practices of Hope

Fifty years ago, the Club of Rome’s seminal report, The Limits to Growth (1972), warned us of the catastrophe that would result from our reckless economic expansion and our relentless exploitation of the earth’s resources, a festival of greed unfolding like there was no tomorrow. Today, we stand at one of the most precarious thresholds in history, unsure of whether there will be a tomorrow.

We have depleted our planet’s reserves of fossil fuel, poured toxins into its soil and released poisonous effluents into its air and water. We have brought about a rapid destruction of habitat for an alarmingly wide array of species. We have accelerated the release of greenhouse gases, punctured the ozone layer, and triggered off the melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps and the degradation of the ice cover in the ‘Third Pole’, the Hindu Kush-Karakorum-Himalayan belt. This, in turn, has set in motion a rise in sea levels that threatens many of the world’s littoral cities – including Mumbai – with imminent flooding.

Decades before this catastrophe overtook us, the anthropologist and cybernetics pioneer Gregory Bateson observed presciently that a species that outstrips its habitat is doomed. We are that species. We have imagined ourselves to be the owners of the earth, when we are merely its transient and wilful tenants. We have disregarded the rights and needs of the species that are our fellow tenants of this planet. With every step we take, every debt we owe to our ecosystems, we burden the earth and guarantee our own extinction as a species.

How do we propose remedies and craft resolutions to this catastrophe? In New Natures, we bring together voices from the literary arts, the humanities, the sciences, and the domains of activism and architecture, to engage with the urgent question of how to live responsibly in a multispecies world. In the conference and the unfolding programme of literary events that are integral to this project, alongside this exhibition, we convene a group of poets, prose writers and thinkers who recall us to the replenishing practices of compassion, wisdom, solidarity, love, courage, and hope.

Ranjit Hoskote
Curator of Literature


  • Rajyashri Goody - 7 © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Photo: Anil Rane
  • Parag Tandel - 16 © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Photo: Anil Rane
  • Ranbir Kaleka - 4 © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Photo: Anil Rane
  • Ranbir Kaleka - 1 © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Photo: Anil Rane
  • Himali Singh Soin 10 © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Photo: Anil Rane
  • Rohini Devasher - 16 © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Photo: Anil Rane
  • Parag Tandel - 15 © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Photo: Anil Rane
  • Prabhakar Pachpute - 2 © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Photo: Anil Rane
  • Tanmoy Samanta - 3 © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Photo: Anil Rane
  • Rohini Devasher - 12 © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Photo: Anil Rane
  • Rohini Devasher - 1 © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Photo: Anil Rane
  • Sonia Mehra Chawla - 3 © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Photo: Anil Rane
  • In the Making of Himself © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Photo: Anil Rane
  • Sharbendu De - 1 © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Photo: Anil Rane

Participating Artists

New Natures: A Terrible Beauty is Born

Ravi Agarwal © privat Ravi Agarwal is an interdisciplinary artist, photographer, environmental campaigner, writer and curator. Bridging the divide between art and activism, he addresses the entangled questions of nature and its futures using photography, video, text and installation. His work ranges from the long documentary to the conceptual and performative. He has regularly published photobooks and diaries, has curated large Indo- European public art projects (Yamuna-Elbe — twin city project — 2011, and Embrace our Rivers — 2018), and has edited books (The Crisis of Climate Change, Routledge, 2021; Embrace Our Rivers – Kerber, 2017), journals (Marg- Art and Ecology issue – April 2020, IIC journal Spring 2020). He is the curator of ‘New Natures; A Terrible Beauty is Born,’ organised by the Goethe Institute Mumbai (Feb 2022) and was the photography curator for the Serendipity Arts Festival (2018 and 2019).

Ranjit Hoskote © Ranjit Hoskote, Photo: Nancy Adajania Ranjit Hoskote is a leading Anglophone Indian poet, and has also been acclaimed as a seminal contributor to Indian art criticism. His books include Vanishing Acts: New & Selected Poems 1985-2005 (Penguin, 2006), Central Time (Penguin/ Viking, 2014), and Jonahwhale (Penguin/ Hamish Hamilton, 2018). His poetry has appeared in German translation as Die Ankunft der Vögel (Carl Hanser Verlag, 2006) and Feldnotizen des Magiers (Editions Offenes Feld, 2015). His translation of the 14th-century Kashmiri mystic Lal Ded has been published as I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded (Penguin Classics, 2011).

Hoskote was a Fellow of the International Writing Program, University of Iowa, and has been writer-in-residence at Villa Waldberta, Munich; Theater der Welt, Essen-Mülheim; and the Polish Institute, Berlin. He has been researcher-in-residence at BAK/ basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht. He has received the Sahitya Akademi Golden Jubilee Award, the Sahitya Akademi Award for Translation, and the S H Raza Award for Literature. Hoskote was juror for international literature for the 2015-2017 fellowship cycle at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart.
Arunkumar HG  
In the Making of Himself 
Upcycled industrial scrap wood, steel 
126" x 34" x 42"  

In the Making of Himself
Humanity's technological achievement has reached an unprecedented height in recent times. But, at the same time, so much technical achievement and wisdom have done enough damage to the earth's ecology that it is irreversible. Today, most know that entire living being are on the verge of becoming extinct. This is because humankind has put itself in the centre of everything and did it all for itself. No other living being has ever caused so much harm on earth. Long ago, the wisdom of many religious philosophies like Jain, Buddhism practised a nature-friendly way of life and non-attachment approach to life. But, unfortunately, humankind's technological trip has cost the most natural resources of the earth, like pristine forest heritage. 
Location: Lawns of the Children’s Museum, CSMVS
  Arunkumar HG 
Nature of SARA.  
Upcycled industrial scrap wood, found materials from nature, farm produce and digital printing.  
6 hinged panels of size 64" x 34" x 3” | expanded 162”  
Nature of SARA
The farmers are the primary guardians of the local ecology, and they are the keepers of the local knowledge system. Local knowledge is passed on through many generations and is kept through everyday practice, hardly tangible to preserve it all otherwise. They knew how to manage soil fertility, seed diversity, and local bio-diversity until the industrial farming system slowly replaced it. SARA Centre, co-founded by farmers artists, is a platform to exchange ideas on the local knowledge system and sustainable alternatives with the changing scenarios.
Location: Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

About the Arunkumar H G:  

Arunkumar H G © Arunkumar H G Arunkumar’s sustained artistic investigation into a diversity of ecological concerns brings forth disharmonies, which are created by rampant consumerist culture. This spread is in inverse proportion to the great decline of natural resources and habitats. With each work, Arunkumar brings in his own local, historical and cultural milieu. The work becomes a generative rather than a conclusive commentary of his concerns regarding the environment at large. 
His choice of medium (re-used and re-cycled goods), and consequently, the execution of such concern[s] reflects a negotiation between suburban life and a longing to return to his rural roots. The farmer takes on the role of the protagonist and also becomes the subject to assert the integral role s/he plays in the preservation of environmental bio-diversity. 
Arunkumar’s solo shows include: ​CON-struction, Gallery Espace, New Delhi [2018]; In-site, Aicon Gallery, New York [2018]; Seed of Reckoning, Mumbai Art Room [2012]; Tract, Nature Morte, New Delhi [2010]; Feed, Nature Morte in New Delhi and Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai [2006]. He has also participated in numerous group exhibitions in India and abroad, and particpated in numerous artist residencies. In 2014, he set up the Centre for Knowledge and Environment (www.saracentre.org) in the Western Ghats region of Karnataka, India.   
More information: Arunkumar HG 
Someone left a horse on the shore (2007)
Inkjet print on archival paper
Size: 60 inches x 89 inches

This is a large-scale sculpture made of wood. The idea of the Trojan horse is to narrate the present-day urban reality. After it was made, the sculpture was taken to different locations on the outskirts of the city Delhi and was photographed with the surrounding landscape. It was a comment on the everyday expansion of the cityscape with the force of a huge land mafia network in the city. A betrayal and conquest in contemporary times.  
  Streetlight (2010)
Inkjet print on archival paper
60 inches x 89 inches 

A sculptural intervention into the urban wilderness. Inspired by the logic of illogical constructions and ever-changing character of the city expansion. There is always an element of aspirational goodwill nature of the way we imagine a space but collapses by the chaotic nature of our understanding of it.

Location: Lawns of the Children’s Museum, CSMVS

About the Artist

Gigi Scaria © Gigi Scaria Gigi Scaria was born in Kothanalloor, a village in southern Kerala, India, in 1973. In 1995, after completing a bachelor’s of fine arts degree at the College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram, Scaria moved to New Delhi where he undertook a master’s of arts at Jamia Millia Islamia. In the mid 1990s, while establishing his career as a professional artist, Scaria also illustrated children’s books and taught art at an experimental school in New Delhi. By 2000, increased international exposure was accompanied by prestigious residency opportunities and solo exhibitions in India, Germany, America, Hungary, the Republic of Korea and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Scaria’s creative repertoire includes painting, photography, installation, sculpture and video.
His noteworthy group participations include the Ishara Art Foundation, Dubai (2019), the 54th Venice Biennale, the Prague Biennale and 3rd Singapore Biennale in 2011, the Oz Asia Festival Exhibition in 2012 and the Kochi Muziris Biennale in 2014, among others. Gigi Scaria was a 2012 University of Melbourne Macgeorge Fellow, was awarded an Inlaks Scholarship in 2002, and has completed a number of residencies, including Circulating AiR, Stiftelsen 3.14, Bergen, Norway (2016); the National Art Studio, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Chantong, Seoul, Korea (2007–08); CCA7 (Caribbean Contemporary Arts), Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies (2005); Khoj studios, Khirkee Village, New Delhi (2004); and Unidee at Cittadellarte, Foundation Pistoletto, Biella, Italy (2002).
In 2017, his major solo exhibition was held at Aicon Gallery, New York. He has also featured his work in a number of solo shows and independent installations, including Gallery Chemould (Mumbai); Vadehra Art Gallery (New Delhi); Videospace Budapest; the Smart Museum of Art, the University of Chicago; and Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, USA, among others.
The artist lives and works in Delhi.
रुई, कपडा और सम्मान! (Seed, Clothing & Stature!)
Through The Book  (2022) -  to talk about conscious consumption through Cotton to Cloth process

"रोटी, कपडा और मकान", i.e., Food, Clothing & Shelter are the basic human needs. But today, the irony of our society is such that those who are fulfilling these basic needs of others, are themselves being deprived of their basic rights. This is more so true for those involved in the cloth making process.

Cotton growers, the primary raw-material producers of our clothing, are no more in control of the रुई, the cotton seed, that they sow. Cotton cloth has become a luxury which neither these growers, nor the spinners & weavers in the cloth-making process can afford. We have robbed them of their dignified stature to an extent that they’d rather starve themselves to make sure their next generation finds a place in any other profession than theirs...

“Seed, Clothing & Stature” hopes to bring to our notice the stories involved in order to clothe our society & how do we move forward from here, some possible solutions.

The Book will be made from raw material that is grown as part of a diverse agro-ecosystem in which indigenous, non-Genetically Modified (GM), Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)-free cotton is grown organically alongside other food & feed crops. This material can include hand-spun handwoven cloth from indigenous cotton, paper made from crop-residue of Roselle, etc. This material then can be hand-printed, stamped, block-printed, hand-written, embroidered, etc. to tell different stories. It will be handmade by makers that are involved in Gram Art Project’s collective works throughout the year. 

Location: Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

About the artist

GAP Group Photo © GAP GAP is a group of farmers, artists, women, makers, …. They are people of different ideas and identities. But the idea and identity that connects them all and makes them a collective, is that they all are living and working in and around a village and are concerned about it. This village is Paradsinga, situated in Sausar Tehsil of Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh, India.

Their village is just like any other Indian village, undergoing migration, people aspiring for jobs to escape the poverty ridden circle of agriculture, patriarchal, people trying to stick to their traditions & superstitions & religious beliefs, …

With this journey in the backdrop, they are trying to build our collective consciousness around understanding this journey, repercussions of it, the vitalities and the trivialities of it and be expressive while doing it. This expression comes out through their work and artworks. Sometimes these artworks take the form of landarts, sometimes they take the form of yarn artefacts made from the non-GM (Genetically Modified) IPR-free (Intellectual Property Rights) non-hybrid indigenous cotton they grow. These expressions also take the form of plantable seed papers and eatable artefacts made from the organic produce from their farms. Apart from these, they also use performance, making, etc. as other forms of expressions.

For them, art is not just a professional practice, but a way of expressing themselves in the ways they find meaningful about the things they encounter while living a rural life in Paradsinga. & that is what their collective, Gram Art Project, is about – A collective space for them to express about their concerns as a live part of an average Indian village in the forms and media which are socially and ecologically non-exploitative.
Himali Singh Soin 
Static range, 2020  
ongoing, multi-media 

About the work:  
Static Range is a multi-disciplinary and multi-limbed project using a real-life spy-story in the Indian Himalayas as a canvas for speculations and reflections about nuclear culture, porosity, leakages, toxicity and love, spiritual-scientific entanglements, environmental catastrophe and post-nation states. This series of transmissions that make up 'static range', include an animated stamp, letters, music, embroidery, healing, ceramics, planting and a performance installation.  

Nanda Devi, meaning the goddess of happiness, is the patron mountain of the Indian Himalayas. During the cold war in 1965, the CIA collaborated with the Indian Intelligence Bureau to site a nuclear-powered surveillance device on the mountain to intercept Chinese nuclear missile data. The mountain goddess, a temperamental revolutionary, whipped up an immense tempest, and the expedition had to turn back. The plutonium powered device was stashed on the mountain with the intention of recovering it the following season, however it has yet to be found, and “could still be ticking somewhere”.  
Since 1965, the plutonium-powered generator, half the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, has been leaking radioactivity into the mountain, creating glimmering blue ice caves. Mysterious cases of cancer abound in the Sherpa communities of the surrounding villages, and the mountain has since been closed to subsequent expeditions.  
In 1978, during the two years the sanctuary was reopened, my father, a mountaineer, went on an expedition to climb Dunagiri. From there, they took a photograph of Nanda Devi, which was made into a postage stamp by the Indian Telegraph services.  
Using the conceit of the stamp, static range begins with a toxic love-letter from the spy device to the mountain.  
Conflating these public and personal histories, a 15-minute animation of the image of the postage stamp morphs as if it were subjected to radiation, resplendent in the nuclear sublime. The word “India” disappears, erasing the nation state and its obliterating violences, drawing attention to blank stamps and letters that never reach those across zones of conflict. Loves lost or never requited. 

Location: Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

A therapeutic garden  
A bio-remediation planting project at the CSMVS Children’s Museum in the context of Static Range, a multi-media artwork about nuclear culture and the invisible toxicities with which we live. The garden is composed of a variety of species that absorb radiation. ​

Location: Lawns of the Children’s Museum, CSMVS​

about the artist

Himali Singh Soin © Himali Singh Soin Himali works across text, performance and moving image. She utilizes metaphors from the natural environment to construct speculative cosmologies that reveal non-linear entanglements between human and non-human life. Her poetic methodology explores the myriad technologies of knowing, from scientific to intuitional, indigenous and alchemical processes. Her inspirations include the ancient Stoics and contemporary literature, travel diaries and ancient diagrams. In the face of extinction, her work insists on resurgence.  

Soin's art has been shown internationally, from Khoj (Delhi), Somerset House, Mimosa House, Serpentine Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery (London), Gropius Bau, EWERK, HKW (Berlin), Migros Museum (Zurich), Anchorage museum (Alaska), Kadist (San Francisco) and the Shanghai Biennale. She was the recipient of the Frieze Artist Award 2019, part of the curatorial team of Momenta Biennale 2021 in Montréal and Writer-in-Residence at the Whitechapel Gallery in London 2020-2021. 
Ishan Tankha 
‘A Peal Of Spring Thunder’ 
Photographic works

'A Peal of Spring Thunder’ concerns itself with the continuing and violent struggle between the Maoist rebels and the Indian state which has left thousands dead and many more displaced,  in some of the most socio economically struggling regions. It attempts to highlight a region that is largely ignored by the government , for whom the regions vast natural resources seem to hold more importance than its residents. The images follow indigenous adivasis and Maoist soldiers as the negotiate inhabited, forested and barren landscapes profoundly affected by commercial and political prospectors. 
  Jal Satyagraha  

How callous can a government be that the only way to attract its attention is to squat neck deep in water? These images were made in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh in 2012.  

It’s not as if the ‘jal satyagrahis’ of Khandwa hadn’t exhausted other means. For over two decades, they have agitated on every available forum, asking merely that the government understand the consequences of its massive project of damming the Narmada.

The Indira Sagar Dam has the largest submerged area of any dam in the country. An area that covers 255 villages, forcing the displacement of almost three lakh people. Most people have been forcefully evicted with little compensation, despite the Narmada Valley Development Authority’s official policy, reinforced by a Supreme Court judgment in 2011.
The decision affects at least another 91 villages on the periphery of the current captive area. More will be affected, as the plan — indeed, not even the Central Water Commission — has no mechanism to calculate the impact of raising the dam’s height on the areas along the various large rivers that drain into the Narmada. It is this decision, like a similar increase proposed for the Omkareshwar Dam last year, that drove Khandwa’s villagers to risk serious illness by sitting in the dirty river water for days. Their protest is symbolic of the great irony of their tragedy: how water, the source of all life, is being used to bring about the destruction of theirs. 
The mood in Khandwa was sombre. These are not firebrand activists fighting for an ideal, but villagers who stood up to the might of the State and lost. All they seek now is what they are due. These are men and women fighting as much to make ends meet as they are for justice. An oral promise by the state government not to increase the dam’s height finally put an end to the two-week agitation. But promises have been broken in the past. And the protesters expect nothing but a long, bitter struggle. As Atma Ram, one of the satyagrahis, put it, “It never ends, this slow destruction of our world.” 

Location: Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

About the artist

Ishan Tankha © Ishan Tankha Ishan Tankha is an independent photographer whose images explore the relationship between social and physical environments. His work has focused on ecological degradation and the corresponding displacement and dispossession of indigenous communities, life in times of rising air pollution and the shifting shape of urban and rural life and landscape in the subcontinent.  “A Peal of Spring Thunder” is a series on social life and environment in Chhattisgarh in East-Central India against the backdrop of a continuing and violent conflict between the state and armed guerillas. 
Karan Shrestha 
We Exist (2018)
digital photographs

Stealing Earth (2018)
HD, 1920 x 1080

Mikania Micrantha (2021)
digital collage

Camouflage (2022)
fabric, artificial moss, wire, acrylic 

Shared Sensualities (2020 -2021)
ink on paper

A Telling (2018)

Chitwan National Park, the first protected area in Nepal, was established in 1973 after being a popular destination for hunting and trade amongst Nepal’s royalty and British colonists for over a century. Since then, it has become the face of biodiversity protection and tourism development. The national park has been steadily expanding over the years. This comes at the expense of the livelihood of indigenous communities such as Bote, Majhi, Musahar, Kumal, Chepang and Tharu that have faced evictions, loss of land, arrests, torture and sexual assault by armed forces. The protection area legislation, like many other laws in the new constitution that came into effect in 2015, is reminiscent of the autocratic monarchy state. The government can declare protected areas and buffer zones in any territory without consulting local and indigenous inhabitants of that area. stealing earth addresses how the rhetoric of conservation is used to enclose land, forest and water for the wealthy and powerful, while disenfranchising communities that have shared a symbiotic relationship with these environments for centuries. 

Location: Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

About the artist

Karan Shresta © Karan Shresta Karan Shrestha’s practice includes drawing, sculpture, photography, text, film and video that speak to the complex, entangled relations between people, time and place, probing at the fraught rhetoric of progress pertaining to Nepal’s recent history. Shrestha presents works that are an archive of physical landscapes, political histories, and transient memories, and a speculative world that suspends reality, creating space to contemplate notions of the present. 
A Cognitive Process (2020-2021) 
Photo prints on Plexiglass,   23.6 x 16.6 inches / 60cm x 42cm. 
These have evolved from Altaf’s interest in exploring the concept of ecological democracy in relation to representative democracies that we have been experiencing and are domineering and unjust. They not only exclude other life forms or organisms on the planet but marginalize certain sections of human society as well.   During the pandemic, I became curious as to how our lives and lives of animals and plants etc. depend on democratic principles of communication - how the loss of diversity and extinction of various species is also happening to the human microbiota, which affects our health and well-being - as microbiotas are present in every living being.   
A critical reflection on the human struggle of achievements is not isolated from a simultaneous breakdown of the environment, conflicts and the contradictions between the warning signs by environmental scientists alongside peoples’ lived experiences and actions of people in power, including the politics behind it. It is how the procedures of urbanization have come with a blend of environmental disturbances and alternations and how all alternations or modifications have not been beneficial.                         

Water Flows 2021 -Video [ on the left monitor ] 
Single projection video, 75 minutes, colour, sound, loop 

Water flows, a work in process is about the citizens’ collective attempt to use their rights to save, restore and develop open spaces for public use through democratic procedures, with the objective to integrate people and nature. A close relationship between people and nature when seen historically has always existed. The concern is to work towards sustainability and a sustainable ecology in Mumbai, where 30 percent of the city comprises of natural areas closely associated with land mass, “if these are integrated,  it opens new ways of looking at the idea of open spaces, not what is reserved in development plans but the idea of natural areas forming an idea of open spaces and people beginning to relate to them in order to understand the value of them… and participate in decision making”. [P.K Das]  

Body City Flows 2015 -Video [ on the right monitor ] 
Single projection video, 18 minutes, Colour, sound, loop 

Body City Flows attempts to address how the flow of river water is impacted by the abuse and appropriation of natural resources in Mumbai, which has 4 river basins.  Altaf sees a link in flow of rivers their tributaries and the human body's vascular system – its veins and arteries. 
To create a better perception of flow of life both in terms of the human body and natural environment- apart from the material researched and shot on 4 rivers [ Mithi, Poiser, Oshiwara and Dahisar], footage of blood flow and blockages in the human body obtained from medical practitioners and the hospitals- the video also includes animation on blood flow specially done for this work and a conversation with Dr. Modak (founder of Ekonnect Knowledge Foundation) on Mumbai’s present day water situation.   

The body’s veins, a tree’s roots and river’s delta visually convey a sense of the timelessness of similar shapes. The rivers are like the blood in the veins or the roots under trees, because they support life and provide sustenance. And because of their organic connection with the earth and water, civilizations have thrived off the river system. In the metaphorical sense rivers have been compared with the soul, like implying the endless quest for roots or routes of knowing and perceiving nature. Here I intend to bring things full circle by connecting bodily blood flow to the present system of water supply and the state of flow of the four rivers in Mumbai . 

Location: Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai 

About the artist

Navjot Altaf © Navjot Altaf Navjot Altaf (b.1949) is a transcultural artist, whose inventive multi-media work reflects political and aesthetic concerns that have been informed by dialogical ways of working. Her practice is located in the metaphor of flow – across materiality and theory, across place and people, and in finding a transdisciplinary perspective where inquiry and self-inquiry intersect. Her ideological positions move from Marxism in the 1970s, to feminism in the 1980s-1990s, and eco-feminism from early 2000 onwards, critically examining the intersectionality between natural systems, community growth, and development.   

With a sustained engagement with indigenous cultures, local knowledge systems, ecology and social justice, her intellectual trajectory, like her creative process, has been shaped by life experiences and theoretical readings. It has been marked by complexities, conflicts, and imaginative turns. From a formalist training in Western modernism, her quest has been to find a conceptual and artistic language through forms of “critical emplacement” or experiential belonging in various locales. This has prompted her to work in Bombay and Bastar, to engage with an Adivasi life-world, Adivasi artists, as well as artists and researchers from other parts of India and beyond.  

Her extensive dialogues with Adivasi communities and artists led to the co-founding of the Dialogue Interactive Artists’ Association (DIAA, 2000) in Kondegaon, Bastar, which focuses on enabling an inclusive and experimental platform for equal aesthetic rights, while probing systems of knowledge production. Her engagement through research and practice has been to understand the relationship between deep ecology, sustainability, and spirituality with an emphasis on environmental philosophy. In retrospect, she has envisioned inquiry as an ongoing process in dialogue with diverse modes of creative thought.  
1. Parag Tandel 
 (Installations 2022)
1. ‘The coast is clear: Underscapes & आमचं तं सगलंच गेलं?/ We have lost everything?’
2. Into the Bones’
3. ‘Estuaries of waning sounds-2’

A documentation of a forest within forest this is Tandel’s  community's ancient sentiment, the way they discern the ocean as forest. The eviction of crab burrow space in dental plaster is an allegorical articulation of my community’s feelings driving through the trauma of displacement and loss.
‘Into the Bones’ sculptural installation is comparative research between land and ocean earthly culture, here material culture is very important in an image-making cycle, each material creates the image in mind as we recite them it creates mind maps of Anthropology, Technique utilized to formulate is known as Dokhra art craft, this is very ancient test Indian indigenous technology to cast metal objects, it is evidence of human cognitive evolution. 

‘Estuaries of waning sounds-2’ socially engaged pop-up museum of indigenous fisherfolks tribes of Mumbai, a museum of linguistic heritage, Koli tribes have their distinct jargon which is connected to ocean life. ‘Language’ is an archeological site to unravel their past narratives which associate them to their intuition since Stone Age. In these climate crises, we crave for a language that informs us about long-term sustainability. 
In each piece, body of material interrogates how the fields in the material can be transformed into a new tool, Excavation of language as locality investigates air as an element that is related to sound as an entity. Paper as a simple substance migrates beyond and alters itself into membranes of land and water, it serves as a fluid shapeshifter. 

Location: Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

Location: Lawns of the Children’s Museum, CSMVS

About the artist

Parag Tandel © Parag Tandel Parag Tandel (b. 1978), is a Mumbai-based artist with a post-Diploma in Creative Sculpture from M. S University, Baroda (2005) and Diploma in sculpture and modelling from Sir J.J School of Art, Mumbai (2003). Tandel’s solo exhibitions include Pregnant Room 1 and Pregnant Room 2, both showcased at Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai,( 2008 & 2010) Chronicleat TARQ, Mumbai (2016) and Autopolisphilia curated by Noopur Desai at Sudarshan art gallery, Pune, India (2018). He has also been part of various group shows across India including Baroda March, Mumbai (2015); Small is Big, Durbar Hall, Kochi (2013); Earth Art Project Tansa, Arka Art Trust, Mumbai (2013); Upvan Art Festival, Thane (2013); Small is Beautiful , Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai (2012); The Art of Drawing, The Guild, Mumbai (2011); TAKE 2, Aarushi Arts, Delhi (2011); Untitled 2010, Artkonsult, Delhi (2010); and AvaGard, Threshold Art Gallery, Delhi (2009) among others.  

Some of his public art projects include Tandel Fund of Archives, pop-up museum of fisherfolk, Mumbai (2020 & 2019); (En)counters- Daily Rations Public art project, curated by Artoxygen, Breathing art works, Mumbai (2017); Geographies of consumptions, Mumbai (2015); Big Catch, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai (2012); and Sandarbh, Rajasthan (2011). Tandel has been a recipient of the Jhunjhunwala Scholarship Award (2003); Maharashtra State Art Award (2003); and All India Art and Craft Society State Award (2003). Additionally, he has participated in residencies at the Banboo Curtain Studio, Taiwan (2018) Piramal Art Residency (2017), Space 118 (2015), Mumbai and in Partapur, Rajasthan.  

He currently lives and works in Thane, Mumbai.
Paribartana Mohanty 
Dear Document Fukushima
Multi-screen video installation
Duration Variable (Loop) 

Liquid Elephant and the Mirror, 1 min, 2014-2021

Glass window reflects. Reflects the neighbor. The image of Daichi Nuclear Power Plant traveled nearly three kilometers far to be reflected upon its neighbor’s glass window. It trace passed the fence. It always does. And in future it will, eternally trace pass our imagination like Bodhisattva entered queen Maya’s dream without her permission.

Dear Document Fukushima No. 3, 1 min, 2014-2021

A nuclear radiation contaminated space is never exhausted, appear to be in an infinite loop. In this never ending loop what manifest is abstraction.

Dear Document Fukushima No. 4, (Hey what in the world is this hole?) 1 min, 2014-2021

We pretend to care, we pretend to cure. We are rhetorical players. 

A Sacred Utterance, 3.45 min, 2014-2021

Umbrical Cord, 1.49 min, 2014-2021

Dear Document Fukushima No.17, 40 sec, 2014-2021

Many took the Chernobyl nuclear disaster as an opportunity to serve the country. The crisis shaped by a propagandistic nationalism. There are still posters, which reads, “Our goal is the happiness of all mankind.” “The world proletariat will triumph.” And “The ideas of Lenin are immortal.”
One said, “To pray there used to be communism instead of god, but now there was nothing, so they pray god.”
Sometimes, I lose my mind. This is this moment

Here is a Clock Working, 1.3 min, 2014-2021

Feels like the evacuation process is still continuing. A clock is still working. Among thousands of dead clocks, one is working. Showing the time equal to the time we brought there – exactly 9.40am in the morning. A register of our meeting. We noted the time. The clock made a notation about us on 19th of March 2014.

A Prayer and the Prey, 1.37 min, 2014-2021

Dear Document Fukushima No. 19, 1.24 min, 2014-2021

The Hubris, 40 sec, 2014-2021

All form of references are valid in a site of disaster. This is how they remembered the catastrophe. This is how they survived.

A Dream Sequence (Meeting), 1 min, 2014-2021

Camera Breaking Act, 4.23 min, 2014-2021

Dear Document Fukushima No. 21 (Anywhere Fukushima Everywhere Fukushima), 1 min, 2014-2021

I have juxtaposed this photograph of pilgrims from Odisha in the radioactive Pacific in Fukushima. Waiting to see if they can touch the water and practice their ritual. For the sins of humanity Fukushima might become the pilgrimage site of the future.

Dear Document Fukushima No. 23, 1 min, 2014-2021

A Proposal for a Football Field, 2.6 min, 2014-2021

Setsuko!, 57 sec, 2014-2021

Setsuko Yokokawa is a toddler and the younger sister of Seita Yokokawa in the Studio Ghibli movie Grave of the Fireflies. She was born in 1941, but she later dies in 1945 towards the end of the film.

Dear Document Fukushima No. 6, 1 min, 2014-2021

In 1986, the inhabitants of Belarus associated Chernobyl nuclear disaster and radiation, and the after effect of this catastrophe with communism, war and disease. Today,  in this time of covid pandemic bio-hazard, we are surrounded with the image of glove, mask and PPE kits. It feels, we, the liberal secular artists, scientists, activists and the public in general are hung in a strange spacetime at this unusual strange juncture between present and future, just like these rubber gloves in Fukushima. 
Like masks, gloves also protect us from what a bare hand should not touch. I wonder, how will this ‘un-touch-ability’ is different from caste ?

A Dream Sequence, 6.24 min, 2014-2021

Wild abandoned Fukushima is the habitat of other mortals. Internal chemistry of such places provoke imaginary spectacles in one’s mind and prophecies a sense of inexhaustible time, all too familiar and strange at the same time.

How to comprehend such zones or prophecies that grow into wild-life sanctuaries of new mutating animals, flora and fauna, or repositories of the un-dead like in a Natural History Museum?
Project ‘Dear Document Fukushima’ approaches the audio-visual documentation of Fukushima exclusion radioactive zone, as potential layouts for ‘Horror Vacui’ (the fear of empty space), a term used in early cartography to describe a tendency of filling those undiscovered empty spaces with fictional decorative animals, flora and fauna designs in the processes of making maps. Each mediated image of Fukushima is a document, not a record or witnessing evidence of the event of a nuclear accident that took place on 11 March 2011, but an entity which has life, tentacles and influence. All these images are as wild as the artistic interventions, acts or performances that are stuck in the itinerant loops of time and memory of those places. Opening up an enigmatic, dangerous and incomprehensible zone that Fredric Jameson describes as ‘radical other space’.
Documentation of Fukushima can be viewed in parallel with other abandoned places existing on the surface of earth like Chernobyl or Minamata Bay, and many new emerging wastelands that are slipping away from human habitation due to spillage, war, climate change, mining, radiation, pollution, border disputes, and no man's land etc. In our closed, squired urban pockets, we are living unknowingly in parallel with such hyper worlds which Michel Foucault's calls “Heterotopias”, that appear hostile to human kind but hide many unheard stories of the Future.
‘Dear Document Fukushima’ is a research based multi-screen video installation project (consisting of videos, images and text). The work speculates on environment- disaster-landscapes, interrogates and invokes non-human actors, characters and positions around urban wastelands and their intensities. The project and engagement was initiated during Paribartana Mohanty’s first visit to Fukushima in 2014 with Yoi Kuwakubo, Pedro Inoue, Irwan Ahmet and Tita Salina.
Project link: https://paribartanamohanty.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/dear-document-fukushima/
Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, Fredric Jameson.
Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias, Michel Foucault.
‘How Cartographers Confronted Empty Spaces’, Exhibition, harvard map collection, pusey library, November 12, 2015
He-y, come on ou-t!, a short story by Shinichi Hoshi, translated by Stanleigh Jones. This story appeared in The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories, edited by John L. Apostolou and Martin H. Greenberg (1989).

Location: Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

About the artist

Paribartana Mohanty © Paribartana Mohanty Paribartana Mohanty (b. 1982) is a storyteller based in Delhi. He pursued Master’s degree in History of Art from National Museum Institute, New Delhi (2006), and Bachelors in Fine Art from Dhauli College of Art and craft, Bhubaneswar (2004). His recent work explores how rural landscapes in the coastal districts of Odisha are rapidly changing due to the surge of different environment disasters in n the region specifically after infamous 1999 Super Cyclone. Paribartana’s work speculates on the emerging post-disaster apocalyptic landscapes, livelihood struggles, loss of culture and environmental degradation, and how new communication technology, public policies, specific communities and individuals are contributing to these changes.

Paribartana has received several fellowships, awards and residencies including nomination for Asia’s leading award for Media Artists – 4th VH award and online residency at EyeBeam, Addressing the question of ‘critical tourism’ at Art Inside Out in Sweden, Onassis International Residency program in Athens, SOMA Summer Program in Mexico, studio residency program at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, New York, Visiting Artist Fellowship at South Asia Institute, Harvard University, Boston, Tokyo Wonder Site International Creator Residency, FICA Emerging Artist Award, and City as Studio 1, Sarai-CSDS Media Lab Associate Fellowship for Contemporary Art and Media Practices etc. He worked as one of the curators for Kochi Students’ Biennale, as part of Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016. He is also part of artist collective WALA, and organizes meetings, gatherings, and public performances and guided tours. Paribartana had his 2nd solo exhibition ‘Trees are Stranger Than Aliens in the Movies’ at the Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2018. He has presented and performed at the March Meeting 2018, Sharjah, School of Arts and Aesthetics (JNU), InC gathering of artists, Dhalao and Sarai Reader CSDS, New Delhi, Kochi Muziris Biennale Symposia On the Future of Art Education in India, Taj Ske residency 2015 in Bangalore among many others. His videos, paintings and installations have been exhibited in many group exhibitions, film festivals, seminars and symposiums. 
Prabhakar Pachpute
Rice husk, shadu clay, multani clay,
gum Arabic, paper pulp, cow dung,
orange peel powder and fenugreek powder 7 x 7 x 4.5 inches

Prabhakar Pachpute
Moving cities
Rice husk, terracotta clay, multani clay, gum Arabic, fenugreek powder,
cow dung and glass
6.5 x 5.5 x 3 inches

Prabhakar Pachpute
Rattling knot II (maquette)
Rice husk, red clay, shadu clay multani clay, gum Arabic, paper pulp, fenugreek powder, bamboo and cloth
19.5 x 14.5 x 12 inches
Prabhakar Pachpute
A Fight Over the Mounds
Acrylic, gesso, multani clay, cutouts and pencil on canvas 
204 x 192 in; 204 x 141 in; 204 x 141 in 

Location: Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai 

About the artist

Prabhakar Pachpute © Prabhakar Pachpute Prabhakar Pachpute (1986, born Sasti, Chandrapur) lives and works in Pune, India.  
Prabhakar Pachpute works in an array of mediums and materials including drawing, light, stop- motion animations, sound and sculptural forms. His use of charcoal has a direct connection to his subject matter and familial roots, coal mines and coal miners. Pachpute often creates immersive and dramatic environments in his site-specific works, using portraiture and landscape with surrealist tropes to critically tackle issues of mining labour and the effects of mining on the natural and human landscape. Using Maharashtra as a starting point, the artist combines research from around the world and personal experiences, moving from the personal to the global investigating a complexity of historical transformations on an economic, societal and environmental level.  
Pachpute received his Bachelor’s in fine arts in sculpture from Indira Kala Sangit University, Khairagarh (Chhattisgarh, 2009) and his MFA from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (Gujrat, 2011). He has exhibited extensively with solo shows at Clark House Initiative, Mumbai (2012); Experimenter, Kolkata (2013, 2017 & 2020); National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai (2016); Asilo Via Porpora, Milan (2018); and Glasgow School of Art (2019). He has also participated in group exhibitions at Van Abbe museum, Eindhoven (2013); Kadist Art Foundation, Paris (2013); IFA, Stuttgart & Berlin (2013); DRAF, London (2014); MACBA, Barcelona (2015); Parasite, Hong Kong (2017); Asia Cultural Centre, Gwangju (2017); STUK, Leuven (2018); AV Festival, Newcastle (2018); and was part of the 31st São Paulo Biennial (2014); 5th Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial (2014); 14th Istanbul Biennial (2015); 8th Asia Pacific Triennial, Brisbane (2015); and Dhaka Art Summit (2018); 2nd Yinchuan Biennale (2018) and the 4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2018), Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai (2019), 3rd Industrial Art Biennale (2020), Artes Mundi 9, Cardiff (2021), Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2021), Kunsthalle Bratislava (2021) Prabhakar Pachpute is represented by Experimenter, Kolkata.
Rajyashri Goody
Picnic (2021)
Installation - Ceramics
8 feet in diameter 

A recipe/poem and hundreds of ceramic objects resembling food items and elements from nature come together in a ring to form a ‘picnic’. ‘Picnic’ is both a text and a visual exploration inspired by Dalit writer Sharankumar Limbale’s experiences of being ostracised and discriminated against as a young school student in the 1960s in Maharashtra. The discrimination took place both inside the classroom as well as outside, on events such as these picnics; permeating a natural landscape, seemingly devoid of human intervention, with deep rooted practices of untouchability.   

‘Picnic’ as a recipe invites the reader to attempt to put themselves in Limbale’s shoes, as if following step-by-step instructions that ultimately lead to a deeply uncomfortable situation. The ceramic objects, many resembling leaves and sticks as well as Maharashtrian food items like bhakris, papad, vadis, bhajjis, bhel, and so on, further add to the inedibility of the situation. I choose to use the ceramic medium also because of its associations with mud, soil, the earth, and, on firing, the fact that it has the potential to last thousands of years - like Dalit resilience. 

Location: Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai 


About the artist

Rajyashri Goody @ Rajyashri Goody Rajyashri Goody is from Pune, India. She lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.  
Goody completed her BA in Sociology at Fergusson College in Pune in 2011, and an MA in Visual Anthropology at the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester, England in 2013.  

Goody's art practice is informed by her academic background and her Ambedkarite roots. Through writing, ceramics, photography, and sculpture, she attempts to decode and make visible instances of everyday power and resistance within Dalit communities in India.  
In July 2018 she had a solo show, Eat With Great Delight, at Clark House Initiative, Mumbai. Selected group exhibitions include Hungry For Time, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Austria, 2021; At The Kitchen Table, One Shanthi Road, Bengaluru, 2021; Imprint After at Pulp Society, New Delhi, 2020; Sunnata Samanta at Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi, 2020;  Look Outside This House at Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa, 2019; Body Building at Ishara Art Foundation, Dubai, 2019; Experiment with Truth, Sahmat, New Delhi, 2019; Within/Without, Asia House, London, 2018; Working Practices, The Showroom, London, 2018; Revelations: Reclaiming South Asian Narratives, Harvard University, Cambridge, 2018; and World Next Door, Khoj International, New Delhi, 2017. Her work has also been presented at literature festivals in India.  
Goody is currently an artist-in-residence  at the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam.. Her previous residencies and fellowships took place at Art Omi, Ghent; ISCP, New York; Harvard University, Cambridge; Khoj International, New Delhi; Asia Culture Centre, Gwangju; Bamboo Curtain Studio, Taipei; Piramal Art Residency, Mumbai; and TIFA, Pune. In 2018, she was awarded the Emerging Artist Award by India Today. ​
Ranbir Kaleka
House of Opaque Water
3 channels on 65” LED monitors 10 min 33 sec

After a long careful look, the man says, "This is my home”…”Our cows grazed by the Banyan tree.”…"over there was a tree which fell in a storm and the children played amongst its branches”. We see nothing…he is in the midst of the sea.  
The islands of the Sundarbans in Bengal, home to the world's largest mangrove forest, are being swallowed by the ever rising sea-level due to global warming and other man-made calamities.  
Sheikh Lal Mohan, whose name is a curious mix of muslim and hindu names, took us to the spot on the sea under which lies his submerged village.  

He now lives on another island, Sagardweep, and has returned to the site of his abyssal village. But there is no true returning. In a ritual of reclamation, he sculpts a mud map of his village and house as a healing rite. We follow him and enter a feverish dream of loss and desire. 
In a kind of overflow from reality, invented events are enacted in fictive spaces which project the imaginary interiority of the protagonist. Binaries of art and documentary are dissolved to point to another kind of truth which goes beyond the informational. My engagement with the man and the island was about being-in-the-world and of opening the world. The man and the island becoming a portal into the rest of the world. 
Two wide screen-panels placed far apart on the floor and the third projection in the middle on a wall between them create an immersive ambient with sound. 

Note: The seed for this installation was a passage in "Mean Sea Level" by environmentalist/activist Pradip Saha. 
Location: Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

About the artist

Ranbir Kaleka @ Ranbir Kaleka Ranbir Kaleka was born in 1953, raised in the city of Patiala and studied at the College of Art in Chandigarh (1970-75) and received a Masters Degree in Painting from the Royal College of Art in London in 1987.  
"Ranbir Kaleka has worked both in Britain and India. Across the three and half decades decades of his artistic activity, he has produced both a remarkable body of paintings, vibrant with phantasmagoria and epic disquiet, as well as a body of trans-media works that combine conceptualist sophistication with a calibrated opulence of image." Ranjit Hoskote. 
Ranbir Kaleka’s work reflects a view of the world that is highly internalised and appears to place much reliance on the juxtaposition of improbabilities. In iterations of figurative painting and sculpture the relationship with the metaphysical and surrealist imagination is oblique rather than direct; he incorporates personal experience with wider and more general issues. A later body of work sees him as a painter of expressionist fabulism. Kaleka’s movement into video art, in which he projected video onto a painted canvas, has been an essential endeavour in his further exploration of the ‘psychological event’, one which can take place only outside the physical confines of the frame of the painting, through the use of light to create the image and the subsequent aura of the image. Kaleka has also created and exhibited constructed photographs, sculptures and installations. From his early years on, his work has been honored with various awards, exhibited in major cities of the world and collected by museums, institutions and private collectors in India and abroad. 
Rohini Devasher 
Glasshouse Deep  
Single channel video with sound, duration 14 minutes 21 seconds, 2021 

Glasshouse Deep is a journey into the minute world of the strange deep, where the very small assumes a planetary scale. Reflective, refractive, luminous, each organic/entity(s) temporal evolution is layered with the motion of a trajectory through points in space. Speculative migrations both vertical and horizontal follow orbits that telescope inwards and outwards. 
The organics that populate the Glasshouse Deep claim ancestry from plants but of the minute kind, single-celled algae - diatoms. Like plants they turn sunlight into chemical energy through photosynthesis, but unlike plants diatoms also mysteriously possess a urea cycle, a feature that they share with animals. This incredible hybridity has been attributed to the incorporation of genes from their ancestors and by horizontal gene transfer from marine bacteria. Extraordinary in their diversity of form, planktonic, adnate and stalked, diatoms are chimeras with glass exoskeletons, exhibiting the most intricate bilateral and radial symmetry. A symmetry that is seen is other equally unexpected spaces as well. In the digital domain, video feedback demonstrates that some systems have the ability to spontaneously organize themselves into increasingly complex structures.  

Glasshouse Deep is the latest in a suite of works that employ video-feedback to explore processes of growth and evolution through a technological matrix. The work aims to discover and extend the underlying laws and processes, arising from fundamental physics and chemistry, which govern growth and form in biological systems and it’s mirroring in the digital sphere.   

Light is a central protagonist. The intensity and spectral quality of light induces migration and behavioral photo protection in diatoms. Video feedback occurs when a loop is created between a video camera and a television screen or monitor. This dynamic recursive flow of light between camera and monitor generates startling and beautiful forms. Disks of expanding and contracting light reveal oscillating points/dots, gradually dislocating radiating pinwheels and star bursts exhibit complex patterns and colour, flowing outward from the center, demonstrating that at every higher level of complexity, there is greater potential for new structure and change. 

The work combines images and research of diatom specimens sampled at different times of the year and during different seasons by scientists Minji Lee and Sanjoon Park from the KIOST. These images form the base upon which layers of video-feedback build intricate and delicate forms that explore the structural coloration of diatoms that gives them their other names ‘jewels of the sea’ or ‘living opals’. 

Location: Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

  Hopeful Monsters
6 channel video installation

“I don’t think we’re looking at a plant,” Whitby says, tentative, at one status meeting, risking his new relationship with the science division, which he has embraced as a kind of sanctuary. “Then why are we seeing a plant, Whitby?” Cheney, managing to convey an all-consuming exasperation. Why are we seeing a plant that looks like a plant being a plant. Doing plant things, like photosynthesis and drawing water up through its roots. Why? That’s not a tough question, is it, really? Or is it? Maybe it is a tough question, I don’t know, for reasons beyond me. But that’s going to be a problem, don’t you think? Having to reassert that things we think are the things they are actually are in fact the things they are and not some other thing entirely. “Because,” Cheney says, lowering his voice, “if that’s a tough question, don’t we have to reclassify all the really tough questions?”. - Jeff Vandermeer, Acceptance: Southern Reach Trilogy Hopeful Monsters takes its title from the theory of macro-mutation or large mutations first proposed by German geneticist Richard Goldschmidt (1878-1958). Goldschmidt proposed that mutations occasionally yield individuals within populations that deviate radically from the norm and referred to such individuals as hopeful monsters. Under the right environmental circumstances, these may become fixed, and the population will found a new species.

Location: Natural History Section, CSMVS

About the artist

Rohini Devasher @ Rohini Devasher The artist and amateur astronomer Rohini Devasher has chased solar eclipses -- literal dialectics of negative and positive. Her current research focuses on the twin aspects of the Earth’s skies: its celestial constants on one hand and the mutable objects of the atmosphere on the other.  Most recently she spent 26 days on board the High Trust an oil tanker which spanned the Pacific Ocean. This journey reinforced the role of ‘observation’, and the ‘field’ or ‘site’ in her practice. Her films, prints, sounds, drawings, and mappings of the antagonism of time and space; walk the fine line between wonder and the uncanny, foregrounding the 'strangeness' of encountering, observing and recording both environment and experience. In August 2021, Devasher and Pallavi Paul co-founded Splice, an artistic and curatorial collaborative practice. 
Devasher’s work has been shown at the Rubin Museum, New York (2021), the Sea Art Festival, Busan (2021), the 14th Sharjah Biennial Leaving the Echo Chamber (2019), Kaserne Basel (2019) Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) (2018), 7th Moscow Biennial (2017), the Spencer Museum of Art USA (2018,16), MAAT Museum of Art and Technology,  Lisbon (2016),  ZKM, Karsruhe (2016), Bhau Daji Lad City Museum in Mumbai (2016, 2018) Singapore Art and Science Museum (2016), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2016), and the 5th Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial (2014), the 1st Kochi Biennale (2012), among others.  
Projects with Splice include Wilted Time as part of the Alserkal Fall program, Dubai (2021) Hungry for Time, curated by Raqs Media Collective at the Vienna Academy of Fine Art, Not an Imitation, Project 88, Mumbai 
Devasher is currently the Embedded Artist in Residence at The Open Data institute (ODI) 
Sahej Rahal 
Finalforest.exe, 2021 
HD video. 8:59 min 

The work was produced with the friendly support of Akademie der Künste & E.ON foundation / Human-Machine fellowship by the JUNGE AKADEMIE & VISIT 

In finalforest.exe we find ourselves amidst an unfolding cybernetic ritual. Deep within a virtual forest, a shamanic figure converses with sentient AI programs, whispering remnants of these lost pasts to AI-creatures that wander seemingly infinite digital forests. Mixing folklore, urban legends, archaeological records, conspiracies, and science fiction, “Finalforest.exe” interrogates mythic narratives of disease, demons and state power, that preserve the caste system as the core anatomy of Indian society. 

Location: Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

About the artist

Sahej Rahel @ Sahej Rahel Sahej Rahal is primarily a storyteller. He weaves together fact and fiction, to create mythological worlds unfolding within the present. These myth-worlds take the shape of sculptures, performances, films, paintings, installations, and AI simulation programs where indeterminate beings begin to emerge from the cracks between the real and the imagined. Rahal's participation in group and solo exhibitions includes the Liverpool Biennial, the Kochi Biennale, the Vancouver Biennale, the MACRO Museum Rome, Kadist SF, ACCA Melbourne, CCA Glasgow. He is the recipient of the Cove Park/Henry Moore Fellowship, Akademie Schloss Solitude Fellowship, the Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts Foundation Installation Art Grant, and most recently the Digital Earth fellowship, and Junge Akademie Human Machine fellowship.
Sharbendu De
Imagined Homeland (2013-19) 

The indigenous Tibeto-Burman Lisus (living inside the intractable jungles of Namdapha National Park & Tiger Reserve, and the villages on the Indo-Myanmar border of Arunachal Pradesh, India) represented through Imagined Homeland (2013-19)— is a sentient community that still retains the wisdom to cohabit with nature and nonhuman living beings. They retain ethereal qualities that evades easy categorisations. By adopting magic realism and referencing archetypal interconnections between man, animal and nature, for example ducks, horses, fog, darkness and the elusive light—the mise-en-scènes unmoor us from the reductive colonial-paternalistic gaze, thus navigating us towards newer shores to understand them, and ourselves.

Acknowledgment: The project was supported by an Art Research Grant from the India Foundation for the Arts and a conceptual photography grant from the Lucie Foundation. 

Note 2: Each mise-en-scène was created on location. No animals were hurt during the making of IH.

Location: Lawns of the Children’s Museum, CSMVS​

About the artist

Sharbendu De @ Sharbendu De Sharbendu De (b. 1978, India) is a lens-based artist, academic and a writer. In 2018, Feature Shoot recognised De as an Emerging Photographer of the Year. De received grants from the India Foundation for the Arts (2017), Lucie Foundation (2018), Prince Claus Fund & ASEF (2019), MurthyNayak Foundation (2021) and KHOJ (2021). He was shortlisted for the Lensculture Visual Storytelling Awards (2019) and Lucie Foundation’s Emerging Artist of the Year Scholarship (2018) among other nominations.  
His first solo featuring An Elegy for Ecology (2016-21) opened at SHRINE EMPIRE Gallery, New Delhi, in December’ 2021. The series dealing with the subject of climate change and human survival in the anthropocene premiered at Phantasmopolis, Asian Art Biennale, Taiwan (2021). His former conceptual series Imagined Homeland (2013-19) on the indigenous Lisu tribe from Arunachal Pradesh has received critical appreciation.  
De has also exhibited across Vadehra Art Gallery (2020-21), SHRINE EMPIRE Gallery, New Delhi (2020), PhEST, Italy (2020), FORMAT, U.K. (2019), Serendipity Arts Festival, India (2019), OBSCURA, Malaysia (2019), MOPLA, Los Angeles (2019), Voies Off Awards, Rencontres d'Arles Festival, Arles (2018), Indian Photography Festival, India (2018), Tblisi Photo Festival, Georgia (2018), Goethe-Institut (Mumbai & Delhi; 2016 & 2017), Photo Kathmandu (2016), Econtros da Imagem, Portugal (2016) and Diesel Art Gallery, Mumbai (2012) among others.  ​
Sonia Mehra Chawla 
Vital To Life (2020-21) 
HD Video; 15 minutes 42 seconds 
(In collaboration with ASCUS Art & Science, Edinburgh, Marine Scotland and Edinburgh Science Festival 2021). 

Vital To Life: Drifters & Wanderers (2021) 
Series I-VIII, set of engravings paired with photomicrographs
Engravings: Somerset Velvet with deckle edges, 300 gsm (100% cotton rag, mould made paper, acid-free and lignin-free), 76.2/55.9 cms each
Photomicrographs: archival prints on Hahnemühle Museum Etching, 30.5/21 cms each
In collaboration with Edinburgh Printmakers, ASCUS Art & Science and Marine Scotland UK.

The Non-Human Touch (2021) 
What Values Can Emerge from Ruined Landscape? 
Film in high definition with sound, 45 minutes 
(In collaboration with ASCUS Art & Science, Edinburgh, Marine Scotland and Edinburgh Science Festival 2021.) 

Working with archival historical microscope slides, ‘living’ material from the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean, and filmed through microscopes, ‘Vital to Life’ makes the invisible, mysterious and enigmatic world of microorganisms visible, revealing hidden worlds lying beyond the scope of the human eye. Drawing on the inspirational work of evolutionary theorist and biologist Lynn Margulis and animal physiologist and biochemist Prof. Margaret McFall-Ngai, ‘Vital To Life’ reimagines an oceanic worldview of entangled histories, symbiotic relationships and contaminations. 

The series has been realized within the framework of ‘Entanglements of Time & Tide’, a visual arts and science engagement project by Sonia that explores the North Sea and its tidal zones through an ecological, political, poetic, cultural and economic lens. Reflecting on the human impact on our environment, and in particular effects on micro-organisms by capital-intensive heavy industry and anthropogenic activities, the project explores the enigmatic life of planktons providing several entry points to understanding larger global issues associated with the world’s oceans, while investigating the impact of technological obsolescence, the drive to consumption and the impacts of the waste created by these technofossils. 

The project has been facilitated and supported by Edinburgh Printmakers, Marine Scotland, Creative Scotland, ASCUS Art & Science, Marine Laboratory of the Scottish Government in Aberdeen, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh Science Festival 2021 and Edinburgh Art Festival 2021. 

Location: Natural History Section, CSMVS

About the artist

Sonia Mehra Chawla @ Sonia Mehra Chawla Sonia Mehra Chawla has a multidisciplinary practice as an artist, photographer, and researcher. Her artistic practice explores notions of selfhood, nature, ecology, sustainability and conservation. In her work, she uses a variety of media including photography, fine art printmaking, video, installation and painting.
Mehra Chawla's practice is process oriented and research based, with a focus on specific locations and micro histories. Through her artistic projects, she examines how local places contribute to global changes, what drives those changes, how these contributions change over time, how and where scale matters, what are the interactions between macro-structures and micro-agencies, and how efforts at mitigation and adaptation can be locally initiated and adopted.

The current and ongoing phases of her practice mark her close engagement with the present and future of India's coastal agriculture, and coastal and mangrove ecosystems. The artist's practice combines a commitment to the processes of research with a fidelity to the poetics of the artwork. Her work brings together a variety of impulses, ranging from microscopic details of bacterial and microbial cultures to documentary cinematic studies of marginalized groups whose Eco-sensitive occupations have suffered as a result of the decline in their environment. 

The artist's work is often a result of sustained collaborations with scientific institutions, research institutions, Non Profit Organizations and Trusts in India, as well as interactions with fishing communities, farming and agricultural communities, tribal and indigenous people of India.

Through her practice, Mehra Chawla explores, dissects, re-examines and re-envisions spaces that exist at the intersections of art and science, social and natural realms, self and the other, focusing on the important dimensions of human engagement with and within nature, ranging from the built-environment to the 'wilderness', and human and non-human narratives and interrelations in the Anthropocene.

The artist lives and works in New Delhi, India.
Tanmoy Samanta
Messengers, 2019
Gouache on Nepalese handmade paper 
11 inches x 9.5 inches (each)
Set of 12

Many artists and poets identify themselves with creatures — Tanmoy identifies himself with birds, so the images of birds keep coming back to his works. Our mythologies, fairy tales and songs are full of birds as a metaphor for all immaterial things. He is fascinated about birds and how this simple yet immensely variable creature can beautifully hold the universal dualities such as — familiar and strange, presence and absence, macabre and fantastic, moment and eternity. In these paintings, the form and structure occupy its own space, of solitude and oblivion.
The birds in this work titled "Messengers" are floating in an unidentified space. They are anxious and alerted in their posture by a sense of danger brewing and lurking silently in the dark of the night! As one of the most sensitive creatures, are these shadowy birds actually messengers of nature telling us the precariousness of changing environment!​

Location: Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai


About the artist 

Tanmoy Samanta © Tanmoy Samanta Tanmoy Samanta (b. 1973) began his artistic journey at the Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan, West Bengal, followed by training at the Kanoria Arts Centre, Ahmedabad. His career has seen a number of solo exhibitions including three with the New Delhi based Gallery Espace and one at Anant Art Gallery, Kolkata. Samanta’s show at TARQ in 2014, titled ‘The Shadow Trapper’s Almanac’, curated by Ranjit Hoskote, marked his first solo exhibition in Mumbai. ‘The Shape of Home’ will be his third solo show with TARQ.

Over the years, Samanta has been a part of group shows across India and abroad. Recently, he was part of a group exhibition, Known Unknown, organized by the Raza Foundation, in collaboration with Vadhera Art Gallery, 2020. Besides finding a presence in numerous art fairs such as Art Dubai, Dhaka Art Summit, Art Chennai and India Art Fair, his works are a part of several prestigious public art projects such as the installation at the Hyatt Regency, Delhi (2016), a site specific collaborative project at IIM Ahmedabad (2016), T-2 Liminus, Mumbai International Airport (2013) and Bee-Hive at the Hyatt Regency, Chennai (2011) – both curated by Rajiv Sethi. In 2002, Samanta artistic practice was recognized and celebrated with an award from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York, USA.

He lives and works in between New Delhi and Santiniketan.
State of Nature: Dialogues © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

Conference | 10.02.-12.02.2022
State of Nature: Dialogues

Co-convened by Ravi Agarwal and Ranjit Hoskote, the aim of this three-day conference is to bring together a diversity of voices from across such disciplines as poetry, architecture, philosophy, anthropology, linguistics, activism, and art-making. Click here to view the video recordings.

State of Nature: Literature & Conversations

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