40-foot container revisits Bhopal gas tragedy

New Delhi : Distant voices of train chugging, many faint voices, sepia-tinted photographs of the industrial plant in a temperature-controlled environment – together these eerie elements are trying to recreate the fateful night of Bhopal gas tragedy in a 40-foot container that is open for public viewing in the heart of Rome.

This public art project “Bhopal – A Silent Picture” has been artist Samar Singh Jodha’s passionate project which he has been nurturing for the past five years. Previously, he was able to exhibit this giant multimedia installation at the India Art Summit(2011) and the Kala Ghoda Art Festival (2011), but that time the container was merely 20 foot.

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It was also showcased in London as an antidote of sorts to Dow Chemicals’ support to the London Olympics in 2012 and has travelled to a few international destinations.

“I wasn’t around when the disaster happened. But when I got an art project to work on the tragedy, I went into the plant and spoke with a lot of people, saw how the chemicals are still affecting their live,” Jodha told IANS in an interview.

“I have tried to recreate the experience of being in a train compartment where the sound, images and metaphors of looking through train windows outside the plant have been recreated to revisit memories,” he added.

Till date around 150,000 people have walked through this dark tunnel, which recreates an eerie sensory experience of a train ride into Bhopal on the night of the disaster 30 years ago.

Jodha has struggled to bring it to India after its size was doubled in 2012. This is why the installation is now open for public viewing at Piazza Della Repubblica in Rome.

“The biggest trouble with such kind of work is to find genuine advocates who passionately feel that art isn’t always about sweet stories. It needs to question your own head space,” he said.

“This work is a reminder of how we need to be prepared of more such disasters because the way technology is interfering in our life, there are many natural disasters… and while development is required, corporate irresponsibility is rampant in the industry,” he added.

Jodha is known for using his art for advocacy for over two decades and the reason he chose to highlight this tragedy to the world is because the problem resonates with corporate irresponsibility worldwide.

“There are many Bhopal tragedies going around the world. My message is that one shouldn’t get away with disasters like this, but a lot of corporates are getting away,” he said.


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