Why did two global artists set up a snow monitoring station at Carter Road last week? Find out at an art space located in Bandra tomorrow
In case you stepped out for your routine evening walk at Bandra’s Carter Road promenade last week, you would have spotted a triangular steel contraption that sported the words, ‘The current level of snowfall in Mumbai is 0’.
Passersby check out the Snowglobe installation activated at Carter Road last week. Pics Courtesy/Stereotropic Anecdota
Christened Snowglobe, it’s a weather monitoring station launched by Stereotropic Anecdota, an artist collective run by Kat F Austen, a lecturer at University College London and Tom O’Dea, researcher at Connect, Trinity College Dublin. A first in the series of works, titled The Width Of Air from the collective’s Department of Environment, the project explores the complex interlinks between climate change and human action.
Artist Kat F Austen with part of the installation. Pic courtesy/Artoxygen
“The piece was installed at Carter Road for four days, where it recorded the snowfall levels, day and night. The data was relayed to people at the site and online through a data monitoring web-site (DoEMonitoring.com),” shares O’Dea, adding, “Unsurprisingly, the sensor didn’t record any snow over the four days, as the climate here is tropical. This fact is central to the artistic intention of the piece where we have tried to raise questions as to whether something as complex as the climate can be distilled down to a single number, and to explore the role that data plays in influencing our actions.”
Artist Tom O’Dea works on the project at a workshop in Saki Naka
As part of their residency in Mumbai, the duo developed the piece over a month at a Saki Naka workshop with inputs from the city-based curator Leandre D’Souza of ArtOxygen. Tomorrow, the art organisation will present an exhibition showcasing the documentation from the installation and an interaction with the artists.
Art and engagement
During the measuring process, the artists also invoked reactions from viewers with posters containing questions like, ‘Have you travelled by public transport today?’, ‘How much energy did your phone use today?’ or ‘Did you take fewer breaths to reduce your output of CO2’. These posters will also be a part of the exhibition. “There’s an inherent humour in the work.
The intention was to confront passersby with the sort of language that is often used by official and scientific institutions to influence people’s behaviour. By linking the provocations to the measurement of something as absurd as snow in Mumbai, we try to question the idea of change being driven by a top-down power, rather than growing naturally from an individual’s actions.
Through the engagement, we reiterated the central question, which is: we already know a lot about climate change but we are not acting to stop it. In this case, what do we need to know that will finally motivate us to act?” explains the artist, who is currently working with Austen on the next piece that will be exhibited in Shanghai in April.
Will it snow soon?
When we ask O’Dea if he thinks there’s a possibility of witnessing snowfall in Mumbai, he says, “The interesting thing is that it probably has snowed in Mumbai at some point, albeit not since the last Ice Age. So, while snowfall levels in Mumbai are unlikely to be affected by our actions, the climate is being affected in many other ways and these changes, in turn, affect us. We chose Mumbai as the location for Snowglobe because the chance of snow is so low, which helps raise questions about measurement and climate change. Snow here would be apocalyptic.”
On: February 25, 7.30 pm to 9 pm
At: What About Art?, 7 Baitush Apts, 29th Road, near Sigri Restaurant, off Waterfield Road, Bandra (W).
Carter Road will turn into an art gallery (Read more)