Every day thousands of anointed coconuts, wrapped in consecrated threads, in turn wrapped in plastic bags plop into the water to float briefly before being salvaged by scavenger divers who efficiently extract any usable material and throw the rest back into the ever open arms of the mother river. Mothers, used to taking on more than they can bear, inscribed within culture as all sacrificing, all embracing. Mothers, who, as all children know, can always be relied on to clean up, take care, save, protect, absorb, contain.
In myth the River Yamuna is Yamuna Devi, goddess, lover, mother to millions of devotees. The huge repository of texts and ritual practices which inform her worship, reveal a rich, embedded eco philosophy, articulating an ideal mode of being in relation to the river, and to nature. Why does this not translate into eco conscious behavior? Why does the devotee seem indifferent to the fact that the river is dying? Why is there a disconnect between the ecological wisdom embedded in our cultural practices and current environmental conditions? Is it possible to simultaneously worship and destroy ?
Could the recovery of a forgotten affinity with water, with the river as river and as goddess, help develop an alternative ecological imaginary? A way of conceptualizing the environment that is neither instrumental, nor abstracted piety? Could recuperating the mythic into an embodied perception of the river offer a path of engagement with her desperate condition ?
In my work as an installation artist and photographer, I seek to investigate the historical and metaphoric relationships which mediate between human beings and nature, ranging from the meteorological to the mytho-poetic, the religious to the mercantile.
In works such as the video installation Neelkanth: poison/nectar (2003) and The WaterDiviner (2008) to name just two, the mythic and the social conjoin to open reflection on questions of urbanization, waste, cultural memory and the possibilities of transformation. A series of works about the Yamuna bring simultaneous times and realities into conversation. Here women, mythologized or ordinary, are key protagonists appearing as displaced, dispossessed urban survivors, mutants, goddesses…..
These experiments continue, as I bear witness to the effects of globalization, the rupture of personal and collective memory, and seek to affirm the possibility of an alternative imaginary through my practice.