For the first show in Dubai, renowned artist Navjot Altaf explores the ecological crisis in India’s most deprived communities

DUBAI: For her first exhibition in Dubai and the Arabian Peninsula, revered Indian artist Navjot Altaf will present a range of abstract works exploring the pressing issues of climate change, ecology and feminism, and their presence in our time increasingly digital.

Since the 1970s, Altaf’s practice has involved various media, including painting, photography, sculpture, installation, video, site-specific works, and activism. Entitled “Pattern”, his next exhibition will open at the Ishara Art Foundation on Alserkal Avenue on September 14 and is, like its title, Altaf’s rich array of expressions, as it raises pertinent questions about the survival of our environment and of humanity.

Altaf, born in 1949, and who currently works between Mumbai and Bastar, a district in central India, has exhibited her work throughout India and South Asia as well as in leading international institutions, including the Tate Modern in London, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul and PAV Arte Vivente in Turin.

“Severity of the problems. (Provided)

“My work is about how to deal with the contradictory and paradoxical times we live in,” the artist told Arab News. “I look at a person’s dreams, concerns and questions and how we can find hope.

“I stand in solidarity with all those who imagine the world differently and want to organize it differently.”

Through her work, Altaf highlights issues related to anthropogenic environmental change or climate change in which, she says, “the intersection of local, regional and national politics is intertwined with development emergencies and the power of national capital. and global as an obsession with growth. for a company, not necessarily for all sectors in mind.

Altaf has long researched how it can use its work to help impoverished and struggling communities in India. In 1997, for example, she moved to Bastar, a district in central India, where she co-founded DIAA (Dialogue Interactive Artists Association), an organization run by fellow creatives, alongside artists Rajkumar Korram, Shantibai and Gessuram Viswakarma. Together, they have worked with Indigenous communities to find ways to create sustainable livelihoods, advocate for justice, and call attention to the region’s social and ecological crises through the stories of their art.

‘Pattern.’ (Provided)

“Pattern” will include six bodies of work Altaf has produced since 2014 and 2015, the year of the United Nations Climate Change Conference and the Paris Climate Accords. Works on view captures how Altaf uses its art in collaboration with other artists, activists and organizations to trace the links between human exploitation and the impact of climate change.

For example, “How Perfect Perfection Can Be” (2016-2017) is a set of 24 abstract watercolors that pay homage to what the artist calls “imaginative, industrious minds and hands” to critique the celebration of urbanization. and authoritarianism. Her intricate watercolors are based on the details found in the glass buildings and other monoliths of New York but over which she overlays line graphics relaying information about the impact of climate change.

Another work presented will be “Soul Breath Wind” (2015), a multi-channel video resulting from Altaf’s research and contacts with local communities in the north central part of Chhattisgarh in India. “They are fighting for justice against forces that increase the vulnerability of ecosystems that have impacted people’s lives, their culture and their contribution to sustaining the ecosystem for centuries because they do not see themselves outside of nature,” says Altaf. “I see them as a community of (resisters). I am interested in learning from their lived knowledge systems as well as scientific analysis.

Altaf’s practice has involved various media, including painting, photography, sculpture, installation, video, site-specific works and activism. (Provided)


Also on display will be 24 small sculptures titled “Patterns Which Connect” (2018) previously exhibited at PAV Turin in 2019. The collection of 24 fossil sculptures highlights the diverse natural ecosystem that is under threat due to urbanization and land use. ‘human activity. intervention.

“It shows how aggressive human intervention in nature has destroyed biodiversity which includes other organisms on earth, including insects,” she said. “Together we form the web of life, but several insects are disappearing. These fossil shapes I created reflect what would happen if insects disappeared from the planet.

Curated by Sabih Ahmed, Associate Director and Curator at the Ishara Art Foundation, the exhibition showcases Altaf’s rich multitude of media and its exploration of the socio-economic hardships inflicted by ecological crises.

‘Pattern.’ (Provided)


“Climate-related issues are certainly posing problems for countries around the world, including the Middle East, which is one of the most water-stressed regions and which, in the years to come, could threaten millions of lives and livelihoods,” Altaf added.

In “Seriousness of Issues”, she presents a graph of statistical information that traces seven indices of ecological disasters that she has collected since 2011. The work is used in connection with her series “How Perfect Perfection Can Be” presenting the scarcity freshwater, air pollution, automotive emissions and global climate change. “These changes in our ecology have affected every living thing on (the) planet, no matter where we live.”