Bhopal in Rome

Photographer Samar Singh Jodha hopes that his installation on Bhopal gas tragedy will resonate with Rome, where it opens to the public tomorrow

November 30, 2014 07:19 pm | Updated 07:19 pm IST

Samar Singh Jodha. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Samar Singh Jodha. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

“How much Bhopal sits on anyone’s mind? How many people would even be aware that such a place exists?” asks photographer Samar Singh Jodha as he readies his powerful installation “Bhopal — A Silent Picture” for its next destination, Amnesty Italy Roma from December 2 to 6. The show will open in Italy at 7:35 p.m. which would mean 12:35 a.m. in India, the same time the tragedy struck Bhopal on the night of December 2 and 3 morning in 1984. The leakage of 42 tons of lethal methyl isocyanate by the Union Carbide plant exposed 528,125 people, killed 2,259 that day and its after-effects have killed more than 25,000 people.

“The idea is to take it to as many people as possible because Bhopal today is a metaphor of so many Bhopals in the world. Italy has serious issues related to environment. The idea is to question corporate responsibility by making larger noise about it and as an artist, that’s what I can do,” explains Jodha, who first exhibited the installation at India Art Summit in 2011. The work has, since then, been to Art Chennai, Amnesty International during the London Olympics in 2012, and Venice in November this year.

“New elements got added on the way, like the 40-feet-long container which simulates the same experience of being inside the plant. It has a very sensory feel with all the imagery and sound around. There is a little smoke machine which gives out smoke to give the visitor a feeling of what it must have been like,” says Jodha.

At the Amnesty International, during the London Olympics, came in mannequins, hinting at the unpalatable sponsorship deal between Dow Chemicals and the organisers of the sporting event. “The mannequins were placed opposite the images wrapped in cloth which is stretched and nailed to the wall. The cloth had names and other details of the victims screen-printed on it,” adds the artist, who has been concentrating on marginalised communities for a few years now. Jodha visited the Union Carbide plant in 2004 for a BBC project on 20 years of the gas tragedy and got involved with it.

The multimedia installation that travels on truck, will travel to Sweden, Denmark, the UAE before returning to India.

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