ONLINE. Free event Locating Critical Zones

Locating Critical Zones © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan

Sat, 19.11.2022

3:30 PM - 8:00 PM IST


Conversation, Panel discussion and Film Screening

Programme Schedule:

Time Details
3.30 - 4.30 pm Working Interdisciplinary
Conversation between participating artists Sonia Mehra Chawla, Sonia Levy and Mira Hirtz, Co-Curator Critical Zones – India and Sri Lanka

Sonia Levy (b. 1982) practice focuses on site-based cinematic inquiries and interdisciplinary collaborations, fostering multiple perspectives to consider new worlds. Her work queries Western expansionist and extractivist logics while tending toward critical forms of engagement with more-than-human worlds. She has exhibited in the UK and internationally, including shows and screenings at Centre Pompidou, Paris; ZKM | Karlsruhe; Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris; Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris; ICA, London; BALTIC, Gateshead; Obsidian Coast, Bradford-on-Avon; Goldsmiths, University of London; The Showroom, London; Pump House Gallery, London; Art Laboratory Berlin; HDKV, Heidelberg; Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA; Verksmiðjan á Hjalteyri, Iceland; and The Húsavík Whale Museum, Iceland. Her work has been published by MIT Press, Thames & Hudson, Antennae Journal, The Learned Pig, Billebaude, Verdure Engraved, and has appeared in NatureCulture and Parallax journals.

Sonia Mehra Chawla (b. 1977) is a multidisciplinary artist and researcher based in New Delhi. Working at the intersection of art and science, Chawla’s artistic practice explores notions of ecology, sustainability, and conservation through a multispecies lens. Chawla’s recent exhibitions include The Beauty of Early Life (ZKM | Karlsruhe, 2022), New Natures: A Terrible Beauty is Born (CSMVS Museum Mumbai in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Mumbai, 2022), Evolutionary Potential (Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, in collaboration with the Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin, 2022), The Rooted Sea (Summerhall, part of Edinburgh Science Festival 2022), Entanglements of Time & Tide (Castle Mills, Edinburgh Printmakers, in collaboration with Marine Scotland, Creative Scotland, and ASCUS, 2021), Driving the Human, (Radialsystem, Berlin, 2021), Essl Collection (Albertina Modern, Vienna, 2020), Fragile Kinships (Embassy of Switzerland, New Delhi, 2019), The Undivided Mind (Khoj International Artists’ Association, Delhi, 2018), The World In The City (ifa-Galerie Stuttgart, 2017), and the Yinchuan Biennale 2016.

Mira Hirtz is a performance artist, art mediator, and art theorist basing her work on somatic practices. She explores the value of creativity for human beings and non-human beings in many different formats such as workshops, performances, video pieces, and texts. She graduated from the MFA Creative Practice at TL Conservatoire London and from the MA art research at University of Art and Design Karlsruhe where she thought performative research practice. She worked as an art mediator at documenta14, co-curated the program series “How do we care?” at Badischer Kunstverein 2020, is part of the collective ANTHROPOS EX researching about the theatre of the Anthropocene and currently the co-project manager and co-curator of the touring exhibition “Critical Zones”, initiated by the ZKM | Karlsruhe, the Goethe-Institut South Asia, and Bruno Latour.
4.45 - 6.45 pm ‘Toxic’ States
Panel Discussion: Panellists: Ravi Agarwal, Mukul Sharma, Parnay Lal // Moderator: Latika Gupta

Landfills are ‘non-places,’ archives and hiding places of global production and consumption, yet in constant motion. They transform local ecologies to non-natures as “accumulation(s) without metabolism.” Everything here is in various states of transition, leaching out chemicals and toxic metals, intermingling dispossessed humans, bacteria and viruses, a seeming resting place from where new seepages begin into other strata and mediums. They have a stench of decay and rot, where waste pickers, rummage for dregs and leftovers. Often sited where the out-of-sight poor reside, they constitute a situated experienced ‘nature,’ unglorified and unromantic.  Without them, the global economy could collapse, since here capitalisms outcastes - ‘negative goods’ ‘polluted’ bodies, and other beings - interact intimately and are normalized.

Locating the waste landfill as a terrestrial Critical Zone of material, human and more than human entanglements, the panel will critically examine the concept of toxicity / pollution/ contamination/ co-evolution as a way in which ‘nature,’ is produced and how it impacts our understandings of the current ecological condition.

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).

Mukul Sharma is a Professor of Environmental Studies at Ashoka University. He was the Professor of Development Communication at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. His research interests lie in examining the relations between nature, culture, politics, policy and power. He focuses on the interweaving of ecology, religion, politics and media in the making of environmental politics in India and South Asia. He is presently working on ‘Dalit Ecologies: Caste and Environmental Justice’ and ‘Bihar, 1947-2020: Demography, Ecology and Politics’ (co-authored).

Pranay Lal is a biochemist by training and works for a non-profit organisation on public health. He has been a caricaturist for newspapers, an animator for an advertising agency, and an environmental campaigner. His first book, Indica: A Deep Natural History of the Indian Subcontinent was published in December 2016, and won multiple awards. His most recent book, Invisible Empire: The Natural History of Viruses was released in November 2021.​

Latika Gupta trained in visual culture studies from JNU in Delhi, and has received fellowships from the India Foundation for the Arts and the Nehru Trust for research on Trans-Himalayan art and rituals and was a research fellow at SOAS, London (2017) on a Charles Wallace Trust India Fellowship. She has worked as a curator at the NGMA, Delhi, KHOJ International Artists’ Association and curated exhibitions of South Asian and international contemporary art. Her research interests focus on the material culture and art history of Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh, with a focus on Indo-Tibetan Buddhist monastic art and rituals, as well as museum studies, particularly the shifting registers of value and meaning-making of ritual and everyday objects. She curated the permanent exhibition for a trade-routes artifacts museum in Kargil, Ladakh.
7.00 - 8.00 pm Cloud Studies by Forensic Architecture
Film Screening: Followed by conversation between Samaneh Moafi (Forensic Architecture) and Ravi Agarwal

Forensic Architecture (FA) (founded 2010) is a research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, which investigates human rights violations including violence committed by states, police forces, militaries, and corporations. FA works in partnership with institutions across civil society –grassroots activists, legal teams, international NGOs, and media organizations – to carry out investigations with and on behalf of communities and individuals affected by conflict, police brutality, border regimes, and environmental violence.

This event is in collaboration with Toxics Link.