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< Back to Does The Blue Sky Lie?: Testimonies of Air’s Toxicities 2021-2022

The Aerosol Chronicles Capture Omlojan

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The Aerosol Chronicles Capture Omlojan is a six-part sequential exploration with sound, voice, and moving images. Conceptualized in the wake of auto-generated toxicities that swarm in the air, this artwork attempts to spend some time with the question of being in common with ‘our’ atmosphere. It is also an exploration in not forgetting that there exist radically different ways of breathing not all of which are bound to oxygen.

The work begins with the realization that through the deep time of planetary history, earth’s atmosphere hasn’t always been so abundantly oxygenated. It then attempts to place this relatively short history of atmospheric oxygen with the rather limited range of mostly oxygen-dependent life forms that humans gather under the umbrella of a presumed multi-species collectivity. But what if this gathering wasn’t so limited and so oxygen centered? What if it became much more expanded? If all the diverse bodies in this broader gathering understood toxicity differently and respired differently, then perhaps those differences would splinter the stable materiality of air itself.

The Aerosol Chronicles Capture Omlojan tries to speculate what kinds of worlds would emerge when air itself becomes unstable. What happens when air can no longer be assumed to be implicitly equated with oxygen? In the process of this speculation, this artwork also takes a detour through the policed enclosures of colonial forests in South Asia and those incendiary events that appeared to interrupt the disciplinary regime of accumulation. Perhaps it is a looped and folded line that threads together the hubris of ‘scientifically’ managed colonial forests and those twenty first century contraptions aiming to engineer human survival through planetary meddling. Some of these geoengineering projects paint an unsettling vision: the large-scale capturing of atmospheric carbon as the optimal solution for managing global warming while allowing emissions to continue dumping carbon into the air. Now, as you trace the various detours and blind alleys of the oxygen dilemma with this artwork, will you also catch your own reflection in the menacing glint of those shiny, human-made contraptions?


Articulate Matter

To explore Abhishek Hazra’s work, climate journalist, Aruna Chandrasekhar hosted Articulate Matter. The conversation begins by unpacking the idea of the Anthropocene with ecosystem scientist professor Yadvinder Malhi who talks about why a deep time perspective helps us understand how truly volatile the planet is. He also discusses the need for evidence-based science that’s inclusive of indigenous knowledge, which offers more sustainable ways of relating to the environment. 

Even while the scientific establishment grapples with what is already known about changing ecosystems to enact policy and systemic change, there are parts of India where narratives and data remain suppressed and ignored by mainstream media. 

Public health researcher Shweta Narayan speaks about this disparity in media coverage between the Global North and South, as well as between rural and urban areas within India, as a manifestation of environmental racism. In India, lower caste and indigenous (Adivasi) bodies bear the brunt of toxicity in their environment, while their land and labor fuels petrocapitalism’s extractive rampant greed. 

Journalist and poet Jacinta Kerketta, who grew up near the Saranda Forest in Jharkhand, Asia’s largest Sal forest, which is now being destroyed by mining, talks of the disproportionate impact of pollution on India’s oppressed and marginalized Adivasi and Dalit communities. She talks of how addressing systemic inequality and engaging with the Adivasi worldview, that looks at the environment holistically to recognize just how interconnected we are, can help us weather our own climate emergencies.