Water Stories with the Artist Atul Bhalla
Join the curator Jinah Kim and the artist Atul Bhalla for a tour of Water Stories: River Goddesses, Ancestral Rites, and Climate Crisis and a discussion of the artwork I was Not Waving but Drowning II (2005). After years of observing ecological deterioration and alienation of the river from urban communities, Atul Bhalla ritualistically submerged himself in the Yamuna River, alluringly captured in the set of fourteen serial photographs on loan from the Harvard Art Museums. Kim and Bhalla will discuss this work and its context within the gallery.
Harvard Radcliffe Institute gratefully acknowledges the Johnson-Kulukundis Family Endowment Fund for the Arts, which is supporting this exhibition.
Free and open to the public.
Atul Bhalla (b. 1964, New Delhi, l. New Delhi) is a conceptual artist working on environmental urgencies, particularly the everyday relationship between the Yamuna and her urban communities. Venerated in Hindu mythology as the goddess of life, the Yamuna has become one of the most polluted rivers in the world. Bhalla's sustained engagement with the Yamuna has resulted in public installations, photographic performances, and videos. He earned his BFA from Delhi University and his MFA from the School of Art of Northern Illinois University. He is currently a professor in the Department of Art, Media and Performance, School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) at Shiv Nadar University (Shiv Nadar Institution of Eminence), Delhi NCR.
Bhalla’s work has been exhibited in international venues, including the Pompidou Centre (Paris, France), Benton Museum of Art (Storrs, CT), Bhau Daji Lad Museum (Mumbai, India), Bikaner House (New Delhi, India), Craft Contemporary (Los Angeles, CA), Europalia (Liege, Belgium), Gaia Center Museum (Santiago de Compestela, Spain), Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA), Haverford College (Haverford, PA), Kunsthaus Langenthal (Switzerland) and the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa). With solo shows in London, New York, Mumbai, and regularly in New Delhi. He has also been included in group shows such as the Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial 4 (2009), the Newark Museum’s “INDIA: Public Places, Private Spaces” (2008) and the Fotographie Forum Frankfurt’s “Watching me—Watching India: New Photography from India” (2006), FotoFest Houston TX 2016 and 2018. In 2022–2023, Bhalla partnered with KHOJ Studios (New Delhi) on their “28th Parallel North —An Expeditionary Weather Station” research project, traversing and engaging with of climate change through his practice, from the Gokulpur (Nepal border) to the Ranjeetpura (Pakistan border).
Jinah Kim is the Johnson-Kulukundis Family Faculty Director of the Arts, Harvard Radcliffe Institute, and George P. Bickford Professor of Indian and South Asian Art and professor of South Asian studies, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Kim’s research and teaching explore a range of topics with special interests in intertextuality of text-image relationship, art and politics, female representations and patronage, issues regarding re-appropriation of sacred objects, and postcolonial discourse in the field of South and Southeast Asian Art. In addition to her academic research, she directs a digital humanities project on color and pigments in painting, "Mapping Color in History," which serves as a knowledge common for conservation specialists and anyone interested in material aspects of color, with a searchable, open database for historical research on pigments.