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Plastic pollution and litter is an environmental hazard that has plagued India’s favourite state for siesta – Goa, for many years and has become increasingly rampant. Subodh Kerkar decided to reinterpret the problem and create a public art installation with a two pronged approach, to educate and to use art to make a statement. Hosted and displayed at Museum of Goa (MoG) at Saligao, this vibrant, larger than life installation is “an anti-litter campaign, educating the community on environmental health”.
Goa is synonymous with a beautiful coastline, scrumptious local cuisine, and diverse ecology over and above being a tourist hub. Unfortunately, its much-loved environment has been steadily deteriorating over the decades, with an influx of plastic packaging coupled with general disregard and a disconnect between the natural habitat and Goa’s many visitors and citizens. It is not an uncommon sight to see beaches and the sides of roads strewn with litter.
While the situation seems to be worsening, Subodh Kerkar, Founder of the Museum of Goa (MoG) believes that it can be contained if not reversed with awareness and education. Whom better than the future inheritors of Goa? With a mission to empower the children with a new way to look at plastic pollution and anti-littering, local schools and visiting groups of students contributed to the Carpet of Joy’s creation. The Museum runs a number of programs and workshops for children as well as adults, encouraging them to take art and culture beyond the museum premises. Waste Management is one of MoG’s pet projects.
Collectively, 150,000 plastic bottles of 1-litre capacity were repurposed to create this mammoth installation spanning 2000 square metres in length, with a part of it climbing 12 metres into the sky, and a 9-metre-tall tree as a part of the installation.
One can divide the making of this sensorily stimulating piece into 3 stages – sourcing, crafting and assembling. The Museum of Goa was thrilled to receive the support and cooperation of local schools, the panchayat and district citizens at the sourcing of 1-litre capacity waste plastic bottles.
The MoG has its own waste management program spontaneously supported by Goan citizens, hotels and even the local government who offered land by the highway for the final installation. As a part of the effort, garbage was segregated as wet and dry waste and they have installed bins too. They also had a crowd funding source via Indiegogo where you too can support the art protest.
For the crafting stage, each child was given 15 water bottles and a pair of scissors, Subodh Kerkar shares how he was moved to see how invested the children were to rid their home of litter, even though it was not caused by them. Around 5000 students from neighbouring schools, aged between 6 to 16 years, eagerly participated in collecting plastic bottles, learnt about grading them as per size and shape, cut them into the flowers to make the Carpet, and spray painted them with different colours.
Finally, for the installation, 2000 square meters of plastic net was fixed by the uncapped mouth of upturned crafted 1-litre bottles.
The massive and colourful Carpet of Joy was strategically placed next to the main road, to entice the curious passersby to come explore what it was. Creating the ideal ‘photo-op’ or ‘instagrammable’ moment, most can’t resist the urge to take a picture. As soon as a hand was raised, a sound was heard – “I shall not litter”, which made one turn towards the podium installed alongside, where he/she could take an anti-litter oath.
Subodh Kerkar christened it as Carpet of Joy for “it became a backdrop to all kinds of joy! We had over 2000 visitors per day; always reacting with joy...Many posed like Bollywood heroes and heroines, took selfies and created memories with their friends and families.” The juxtaposition of colourful plastic flowers placed in a natural setting such as a field was a deliberate one, with the intention to point out the irony as well as showcase how the same waste can be made into art. In fact, once the purpose of art is served, the plastiflora and plastic mesh can be recycled to create other goods.
Characteristic of his recent works, the Carpet of Joy too was inspired by Gandhian philosophy, for in one sense “littering is an act of violence against mother nature and oneself”. In the spirit of prabhat pheris (morning marches), Subodh Kerkar visited Saligao locals with his anti-litter message because for him, “this project is beyond just a good looking carpet, its key role is to start a conversation and spread awareness”. His work was also influenced by his meeting with Israeli artist Uri De Beer, of Eco Art & Plastiflora fame.
Quite cleverly executed, the Carpet of Joy utilises the human need to follow shiny bright objects and the moment of euphoria to internalise an important social message. Subodh Kerkar candidly shares, “my job as an artist and an activist is to provoke people to think”. He hopes that via the medium of such a large-scale public installation in its true sense, with active participation of the public, more collaboration between the art community, government, society and anybody will be fuelled with the wish to bring positive change.
You can stay updated on the Carpet of Joy and the Museum of Goa by following them on their Website, Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. If you wish to collaborate or contact them you can write to email@example.com.
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