An artistically designed scooter spreads the message of global warming and its ill-effects

Designing contextual sculptures has become far more important to the younger generation of artists than creating the conventional art of yesteryears.

One such contextual sculpture displayed at Publica, India’s largest public art festival, was a chocolate coloured double-headed scooter created by young artist Mangesh Rajguru.

Titled “Aasan”, the scooter was transformed into a throne by a volley of long structures stretched and moulded like arms and heads of serpents or sheshnaag — the aasan or seat of Lord Vishnu. The foot-rest of the vehicle was turned into a seat or aasan, covered by a bright carpet where one could sit comfortably. Four arms jutted out from beneath the vehicle as if carrying the vehicle on its back. On the two handles of the scooter hung oxygen masks and oxygen cylinders, and instead of mirrors, metal ears protruded from the scooter heads.

Mangesh insists his sculpture is designed to spread awareness about global warming in present times and the over utilisation of vehicles on the roads leading to several diseases. “I have tried to show the side-effects of technological development by using an automobile and its certain parts, like the silencer, and also adding to it mythological iconography.”

For instance, the vehicle has been given the shape of a throne. “The chair bespeaks the position of power, authority and politics. Silencers are used in the form of sheshnaag that ornate the chair over its head. “Sheshanaag is considered as Lord Vishnu’s aasana and Lord Vishnu himself is a powerful/ authoritative image,” says Mangesh, who fuses contemporary with mythology for design’s sake.

The oxygen mask and cylinders symbolise diseases caused due to air pollution and ears indicate noise pollution that a commuter of vehicles endures. The arms below the vehicle demonstrate how a man is burdened under the necessity of commuting by a vehicle and how a vehicle commands a position of power on the road as compared to walkers. “We enjoy power, authority and convenience over hard work but we must not forget the side-effects brought by these technical developments. We should use bicycles for shorter distances,” says the artist.

Though such works of art are intriguing and innovative, aesthetically they might not be always good-looking. Surabhi Mody, founder of Floodlight Foundation that is holding the event, maintains that such works of art are real art that receive appreciation as they go beyond the confines of an elite few in art galleries and museums and biennales.