Saturday, November 6, 2010

Foot Prints of Culture: Vaibhav Sharma at Sandarbh

(Vaibhav Sharma at his site in Luhari Village)

The Facebookians must be familiar with Vaibhav Sharma’s works by now. There has been a torrent of images posting by the Sandarbh 2010 participants in the facebook during the last few days. However, I find it pertinent to reveal my thoughts on his site specific work in Luhari Village where the Sandarbh Nature Art Workshop took place in October 2010.

(Looking for materials)

Vaibhav Sharma hails from Faridabad, Haryana and currently he pursues a post graduation in fine arts at Chandigarh College of Fine Arts. Faridabad has an industrial belt, which runs along the Mathura Road. On the other side are housing colonies with an ample amount of greenery. Having spent his childhood here, Vaibhav knows how the green patches fight for existence against the industrial pollution.

(Carving the foot prints on the ground)

Luhari Village is just an evocation of what Vaibhav already knows. Here the forest and agricultural lands are aggressively acquired by multinational corporations, turning them into industrial plants. One comes across sparsely clad village boys lazing behind the grazing cattle in a landscape which is still green. But there is nothing romantic about it as you see the skyline getting smeared by the dark smoke heaved out by the giant pipes penetrating into infinity.

(Foot Prints of Culture..sickling it out)

While the boys watch over the grazing cows, the village men and women, who once depended totally on forest produce for their lives, go to the nearby factories as daily laborers.

This is not a one sided flow. As the villages flow out to the factories, picnic makers and revelers flow in with their car boots filled with packed food and liquor. Vaibhav picks up this human osmosis, the ‘osmotic nature of culture’ as his point of departure. He finds out a low lying land near a factory. He clears it out and makes two foot prints of a giant human being as if he had walked across this patch and disappeared into the ditches.

(Collecting cultural debris from the forest land)

In every village in India you find a myth that tells you about the visiting of some titans during the mythological times. This is the place where Sita sat and wept. This is the place Bheem rested his cudgel. This is butterball kept by Srikrishna. These are the footsteps of Hanuman and so on .Vaibhav remembers the titans once walked on the earth and now extinct.

(Foot print filled with cultural waste)

There is a pun and irony in this foot marks. Vaibhav fills up the footmarks with the debris collected from the vicinities; beer cans, liquor bottles, wafer packs, abandoned water bottles and all other plastic waste imaginable. These are the foot marks of the ‘cultured human beings’ who once walked on earth. And are they going to be extinct soon thanks to this kind of vandalism that they inflict on the earth?


The footmarks should have been filled with ferns and figs. But Vaibhav does not find them in the forest, instead he gathers what he has found; all this cultural debris. Hence he calls it, ‘Cultural Foot Prints’. The foot prints of culture, almost fossilized by the intervention of a creative thought.


(Close up)

On the last day, Vaibhav decides to clear up the debris and bury them into a ditch that he has dug elsewhere. He has seen cows in urban places eating away plastic waste and dying of stomach problems. He does not want to replicate the same here only because he is doing some ‘work of art’. He starts cleaning up the place, slowly and painstakingly. People ask him to leave it there and tell him that the cows here do not eat plastic waste.

 (Foot prints of culture)

Vaibhav, however feels that one day when there are no longer any grass and tender shoots to eat, the cattle would obviously turn to plastic. He does not want to be the early lesson giver to them. However, to his dismay, during the process of cleaning up, Vaibhav finds the debris scattered by the village kids.

 Making of a work of art can leave the artist immensely happy. A re-look at the work would give him/her some sort of pleasure. But in retrospect, Vaibhav feels pain about the work he has created. May be an artist has to find different ways of doing it, he ruminates. That is the spirit of a young artist and this attitude gives the indications that this artist is destined to go a long way, with a lot of responsibility.

1 comment:

Somu Desai said...

well Johny i remember on 31st Oct when most the artist has left Luhari complex and some were packing there belonging to get back to there own places, in the afternoon it was really really sunny and what i saw was Vaibhav was working in this sunny hot to get back all the plastic form the site where he worked.
it was me who told him that Vaibhav why are you bringing this plactic back. he said that he noticed some cows coming to this site and i don't want them to eat this plastic. i like the way he took this responsability. Vaibhav keep it up and all the best for your future.