Creative Director Anita Ahuja was honored with an incredible opportunity to interview Ms. Sangeeta Bahadur (Sinha), Minister (Culture) & Director, The Nehru Centre, High Commission of India, London.
Thank you Ms. Bahadur, It was such an honor for all of us here at Conserve India.
Without further ado, we present you the interview
Ms. Ahuja – What are your thoughts on recycled art or environmental art?
Ms. Bahadur – With the world getting clogged with discarded junk, it is wonderful to see that some artists are using their imagination and creativity to convert some of it into art. Not only does that help in preserving the environment, but it also beautifies our surroundings.
Ms. Ahuja – Nehru Centre is flagship cultural center outside India, being someone closely associated with such a pivotal place; do you think recycled art has the potential to become the face of 21st century India?
Ms. Bahadur – The Rock Garden in Chandigarh, built entirely of domestic and industrial waste and discarded items, has already become the calling card of one of the largest and best planned Indian cities.. Similar spaces created in other parts of the country, particularly across the faceless urban wasteland of smaller cities and towns, could work wonders in environmental as well as aesthetic terms, transforming the tired ugliness into a thing of beauty. Just as Chandigarh has come to be defined by its world-famous Rock Garden, other urban centres could well get on to India’s tourist map through similar endeavors.
Ms. Ahuja – What is your opinion on Indian artist working on recycled art and what do you think is the reason for meager number of artist?
Ms. Bahadur – For any Indian artist working in the field of recycled art, the procurement of material would not be very difficult, I feel, since our towns and cities are littered with discarded industrial and construction waste. However, the reasons for recycled art not becoming very popular in India are, in my view, (a) because the requisite support from city/town authorities has not been forthcoming, and (b) because recycled art is probably not yet a paying proposition in the domestic art market.
Ms. Ahuja – Your Professional stature makes it possible for you to see the best of both the worlds – east and west. So, do you think the recycled art of an easterner is different from that of westerner?
Ms. Bahadur – There are obvious differences between the East and West in terms of sensibilities, creative imagination and aesthetic appreciation. Often, a piece of art that may appeal to a Western mind may leave an Eastern one cold and vice versa. There are, hence, bound to be some differences brought on by different cultural orientations, exposures and artistic traditions.
Ms. Ahuja – Art exhibitions are generally perceived as something exquisite. But now there is a paradigm change of creating art from trash. Do you think it will stay here?
Ms. Bahadur – Just because art is created from trash does not mean it cannot be beautiful. A great deal depends on the creativity and skill of the artist. Recycled art may not become mainstream art at any stage, but it is here to stay, I would say, as an important addition to the range of plastic arts.
Ms. Ahuja – On those lines, we at Conserve creates recycled art from trash. But, it has an additional social good component to it. What do you think of this business model?
Ms. Bahadur – Companies everywhere are beginning to take their social obligations seriously, and Conserve are setting a good trend by making environment-friendly art itself their business. I hope more organizations like Conserve will come up to provide this crucial linkage between business and art, making every city and town a better place to live in.
Ms. Ahuja – Recycled art created from artist has more values. Like the ones I (Anita Ahuja) create are influenced by own ideology, value system etc. Do you think these give us a competitive edge?
Ms. Bahadur – All art emerges from the individual artist’s ideology and value system. In that sense, I do not think that recycled art is any different from other expressions of creativity. What gives recycled art an edge is that it reflects the artist’s imagination and resourcefulness in a way that a conventional painting or sculpture may not, and that such art serves the dual purpose of cleaning up the environment and creating something aesthetically appealing.
Ms. Ahuja – Being someone closely associated with a cultural centre in west, Do you think these recycled arts can become a brand?
Ms. Bahadur – Certainly. I cannot think of a better example than Nek Chand’s Rock Garden. He has branded a whole city with his art, and there is no reason why other artists cannot do the same.
Ms. Ahuja – What does this whole picture of recycled art convey – emerging artist or influence of politicians on environmental issues?
Ms. Bahadur – I cannot say much about recycled art in the West, but in India environmental pollution is still very far from becoming an issue that garners votes for politicians. Consequently, few of them have contributed much to environmental awareness. Whatever is happening on the front of recycled art in India is, hence, largely the initiative of the artists themselves.
Ms. Ahuja -Finally, do you think these recycled art can enter the mainstream markets apart from the cultural exhibits like Nehru center?
Ms. Bahadur – I am really no expert on this kind of art, but I would say it definitely can enter the mainstream if it is marketed well and the quality of the work is good. Larger installations in public spaces and buildings would, perhaps, be the best way forward as smaller works may not have the same impact given the kind of material used for creating this kind of art.