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Indian artist Samant auctions works to raise funds for farmer families PDF Print E-mail

© Neena Bhandari, Indo Asian News Service

ImageSydney, Sep 10 (IANS) Indian artist Sharmila Samant's works auctioned here have raised Australian $20,160 ($16,296) for families of Indian farmers who committed suicide following consecutive crop failures.

Mumbai-based Samant's uniquely hand-crafted rice snake installations, especially made for the just concluded 16th Biennale of Sydney, Australia's festival of contemporary art, comprised three parts - "Against the Grain", "Sounds of the Silenced" and "Gilt".

The installations, evoking the crippling effects of genetic engineering on the agrarian economy in India, were crafted during a series of workshops organised by Samant with farmers.

"Against the Grain", an installation of 1,000 handcrafted cobras woven from grain and bamboo, made in collaboration with the Indigenous Devguniya community from Bolangir in Orissa, shows the tragedy brought to the farming community with the advent of genetically modified grain.

"Sounds of the Silenced" is a sound-scape of the songs sung by women in the fields, created using seed-storage barrels collected from across India and refashioned into resonance chambers.

The rice cobras were auctioned at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the festival website with the proceeds going back to the farming community.

"The final auction of Samant's snakes made of grain was extraordinary. Samant's project is now complete, with the income from the auction going back to the farmers' communities afflicted by an increase in suicides. This project shows how art can have a real function in life and society, and yet be also poetic, colourful and a sensual experience," Artistic Director of the Biennale, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, told IANS.

The Biennale collaborated with two NGOs for this project: Anandwan and Dhara Mitra, both part of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) and committed to a people-oriented and ecologically sound economic policy, giving priority to protection of people's livelihood and production for people's needs in a sustainable way.

The focus of this year's 12-week Biennale was 'Revolutions - Forms That Turn', which showcased 180 national and international artists and attracted a record attendance of over 435,000 people.

The other Indian artists at the Biennale included Mumbai-based Nalini Malani; Los Angeles-based Bari Kumar; and New Delhi-based Vivan Sundaram and Ranbir Kaleka.

Malani's shadow play installations combine historical, cultural, personal and psychological elements to present allegories of political and ecological dangers with images recalling the horrors of war, the industrial revolution, and the utopia/dystopia that followed.

Ranbir Kaleka's work merges the time and light of the moving image with the constancy and materiality of the painted image. He has been overlaying painting and video on the same plane since the late 1990s. "He Was a Good Man" shows a middle-aged man threading a needle.

Kumar's "Army of Forgotten Souls" is a celebration of the hand-drawn rickshaw; and Sundaram's photographs from his new project, "Trash", and the video "Turning" a comment on the social implications of waste and the frenzy of global consumption.

© Copyright Neena Bhandari. All rights reserved. Republication, copying or using information from any www.india-voice.com content is expressly prohibited without  the permission of the writer and the news agency through which the article is syndicated.  

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