Art Show Spotlights India's Polluted Yamuna River

Koshy Koshy/CC BY 2.0
A man collects discarded plastic bags from the river Yamuna in Delhi.

The largest tributary of the Ganges in northern India and the source of 70 percent of New Delhi's water, the Yamuna River is believed by Hindus to be a goddess who washes away people's sins. These days, what's washing down the river is mostly sewage and garbage -- but people are now being drawn to its filthy banks by a new art exhibit that seeks to raise awareness about the Yamuna's plight.

'Reawakening' The Polluted Yamuna River
"Everyone here knows the river is polluted and dirty, but I want to re-awaken the idea of ecology for it. We want people to come and see what the river is all about for themselves," Ravi Agarwal, a co-curator of the Project Y art installation, told the Associated Press this week.

Works by Indian and German artists are being displayed along both the Yamuna and the Elbe, a far cleaner river in Germany. In India, some of the art -- an installation created from discarded plastic bottles, a sculpture of a woman's legs that traps the garbage flowing past -- float on the Yamuna itself, while other pieces, including photos of flora and fauna believed to be disappearing from the area, sit on its banks.

Art Highlights Waterways In Buenos Aires And Athens
Using art to bring attention to polluted waterways appears to be a growing trend. A lighting and music show was held last weekend on the Riachuelo in Buenos Aires -- a heavily polluted river that has seen some improvement thanks to a court-mandated recovery plan. The event was among cultural activities that are "turning people’s eyes to the water again, and recovering this forgotten space for the public," TreeHugger's Paula Alvarado wrote.

In Athens, the artist-run Project Nero is focusing attention on a river that has already disappeared -- the Kifissos, whose covering over with concrete has led to higher urban temperatures and poorer air quality. Artist Yvonne Senouf and her collaborators are working to revive its memory with animated films, multicultural social events, and art workshops for children.

"In ancient times the rivers in Greek mythology were gods, so super sacred," Senouf told the European current affairs magazine cafebabel.com. "Today they’re no more than dumpsters."

More On Polluted Rivers
Artist Paints Polluted River Green for World Water Day
Green Our Rivers, 3 Ways to Start
World Bank Approves $1 Billion For Ganges River Cleanup
Can Rivers Be Used for Swimming Again?
Cancer Alley: Big Industry & Bigger Illness Along Mississippi River
Famous Chinese Artist Paints Polluted Waters

Tags: Artists | Arts | Buenos Aires | Exhibits | Greece | India | Pollution | Rivers