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Ravi Agarwal

»This monster needs to be fed!«
17. June 18:00 Werkschau

Nature does not forget or forgive. Everything we do, comes around, sooner or later. What may be out of sight, does not disappear, it only changes form – in the process releasing its hidden demons. Sustainability is not a one way street!

Waste has been accepted as an outcome of the material economy. It is produced throughout the extraction, production and consumption process. It is however in reality a waste of resources or ‘nature.’ At best we seem to be concerned with disposing waste, owing to health, hygiene and aesthetic considerations. So long as it ‘disappears’ without a ‘trace,’ we are comfortable with it. In fact till a few decades back, waste was not even considered to be a problem, and was dumped everywhere. Often the disposal of waste causes series challenges of containing toxicity in the form of emissions or effluents, which are partially overcome by employing high tech solutions which are extremely expensive, and even then inadequate.

In the complex web of nature however, the concept of waste itself is non-existent. The dynamic, changing, interdependent and synergetic systems are interlinked and co-dependant. A balance is present. Waste represents a system out of sync and one which changes the dynamic balance. Is waste then inherent in how we can think of human societies, or are other ways possible? Possibly, it requires the rewriting of the social contract, in a way as if ‘nature’ mattered.


Ravi Agarwal — Delhi

is an artist, environmental activist, writer and curator. He has pursued an art practice integrally with his other pursuits. His earlier work, in the documentary oeuvre, encompasses ‘nature’, ‘work,’ ‘labour,’ and the ‘street.’ His current interest spans questions around ecology and society, urban space and capital in interrelated ways. He works with photographs, video, installation and public art. His work has been shown very widely, including at Documenta XI (2002), the Kochi Muzaris Biennial (2016) the Sharjah Biennial (2013), and Indian Highway (2009) etc. 2011 he co-curated the “Yamuna-Elbe” an Indo-German twin city public art and ecology project in Delhi and Hamburg. He is the co-curator for the Indo-German public art event “Embrace our rivers” to be held in Chennai, India (September 2017) by the Goethe Institute.
Ravi is also the founder of the Indian environmental NGO Toxics Link, which has pioneered work on waste and chemicals in developing countries, and campaigns on conserving the river and the forest in Delhi. He serves on several high level government policy and technology standards committees, and writes extensively on sustainability issues in journals and books. He has participated in several UNEP international legally binding treaty processes including the Basal, Stockholm and Minamatta Treaties, and the SIACM agreement. He was awarded the UN Special Recognition Award for Chemical Safety (2008) and the Ashoka Fellowship (1997). He works and lives in Delhi and is an engineer by training.
Ravi Agarwal, From the photographic series Alien Waters, 2004–2006
Ravi Agarwal, From the photographic series After the Flood, 2011