x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Watery statement

A new art exhibit is drawing attention to the sorry state of the Yamuna River.

Art can heal, but four Indian artists and five Germans are hoping art can cleanse, too.

In New Delhi, Project Y organised an art exhibition on the banks of the fetid and garbage-clogged Yamuna River. Their goal: to bring attention to an important river in a sorry state.

The Yamuna, used by Hindus to cleanse the soul, is so stinky and polluted even the most devout might hold their noses. Ungrateful worshippers litter the river with plastic bottles and marigold garlands, not to mention cow carcasses, industrial waste and whatever else New Delhi spits out.

Now a team of art lovers hopes to do what the Indian Government has been unable to: make people care.

"The goddess of the river has always been here to wash away people's sins," said one of the artists, Asim Waqif. His contribution is a stretch of bottles down the middle of the river, which he says demonstrates the river goddess' anger at pollution.

The Yamuna is not the only river in the world with such problems. In Syria and Iraq, sewage waste has turned the Euphrates and Tigress, which once nourished the cradle of civilisation, into polluted trickles.

Outrage is not a typical reaction to art, but in Project Y's case, the hope is that art turns a lens on life. And life, in turn, responds.