Huge public art project at Art Fair explores displacement

New Delhi: Artist Samar Jodha is bringing his newest avant garde work of art that explores the struggles of migration and displacement to the India Art Fair that kicks off here today.

Jodha, who recreated the tragedy of one of the world`s worst environmental and industrial disasters using sound and images in his installation "Bhopal: A silent picture at the India Art Summit last year returns with another thought provoking exhibit that deals with with issues of migration, abandonment and displacement.

The public art project "Discord" says Jodha is a combination of the artist`s experiences during his travel and work across the world including places in South East Asia, China, Middle East and Africa.

"I have tried to deal with issues of migrant workers through my `wall`," Jodha told PTI.

His installation "Hero is the wall" comprises of seven walls of concrete each 5 feet tall by 4 feet wide that has been placed on a two feet continues wall running horizontally about 35 feet in length.

Each wall explores stories of people from different pasts of the world, including India, who contribute to help realise a society`s ambitions, who have been marginalised and relegated to the outer fringes and have to deal with issues like belonging and abandonment.

"The concrete blocks have been superimposed with blown up digital photographs of people who have been marginalised in terms of identity, family, gender etc... they face all kinds of challenges and my take is on how they look at these challenges," says Jodha.

There are stories within the stories in Jodha`s dense images. "My attempt is to show not conventional stuff but show the viewers the psychological side of those who are on the fringes of society," says the artist.

The post globalised economy of the last 15 to 20 years has affected every level of society says Jodha." Ultimately what is happening is people getting caught between the conflicts of displacement, human trafficking etc and I have tried to explore the conflict within self, my attempt is more about the minds," says the artist.

Jodha`s work over the past twenty years has been seen in galleries and museums in India as well as in Barcelona, Boston, Dubai, Frankfurt, London, New York, Queensland and Washington DC.

He says he has photographed the oil rig workers in Nigeria, Romaninan and Polish workers in London, the soot pickers of Central America and migrant workers from Kerala in the Gulf among others. "In the US I worked with very young people from East Europe living a very tough life. They had to deal with the struggles of loneliness and challenges of education."

"Everybody goes through a struggle, but people who are on the bottom rungs of society inevitably end up paying a larger price," says Jodha.

During last year`s Art Summit, Jodha`s installation was inside a mobile truck. The art work invited viewers inside to watch streaming inanimate pictures of the now sealed Union Carbide plant in Bhopal.

He used sounds like the chirping of birds, that of the gas leaking from cylinders and an occasional scream to portray the grim reality of the site of one of the worst industrial disaster of the world.


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