More than 60 years ago, the French philosopher and writer Albert Camus gave a speech titled ‘Create Dangerously’, calling upon artists to leave the white cube of the gallery and make art a part of civil society, essentially by upsetting status quo and moving society forward. “The question, for all those who cannot live without art and what it signifies, is merely to find out how, among the police forces of so many ideologies, the strange liberty of creation is possible,” he said.
It’s what drives the many artists, comics, satirists, musicians and writers who continue their work in the face of threats, trolling and many other repercussions. Outside the elitist bounds of galleries and concert halls, these artists aim to raise public consciousness about discrimination, social and political tyranny, unfair laws, and power imbalance. But art has almost always tapped into the issues of the day, provoking viewers to reflect on ideas of shared humanity—and that’s what many of the young artists in our cover story this week talk about. Over the past two years, public art in India has reached wider audiences with social media giving wings to creators who aren’t too worried about copyright, fame and gains but want to get a message out and want their art to serve a purpose larger than themselves. Art is essentially about communication, and in order to speak to everyone, it’s necessary to tackle themes that resonate with everyone.
To mark the International Day of Action for Rivers, we have a photo story on the Yamuna, one of the most polluted rivers in the world. From Delhi to Pune to Chennai, rivers that run through cities are little more than sewers as municipal sewage, industrial effluents and agricultural run-off drain into it. Despite the fact that the pollutant load leaves it toxic, the Yamuna still supports a variety of wildlife, and—like many other fouled rivers across the country—remains an ecosystem in itself. It’s the kind of example stewards and defenders of the environment hold up to underscore the significance of clean, free-flowing rivers.
As always, there’s lighter reading too: a profile of Aneesh Bhasin of beverage company Svami, whose tonic water has caught the fancy of gin drinkers countrywide; a review of Anuja Chauhan’s new murder mystery; watch and read recommendations; and suggestions for how to lounge this weekend.
Write to the Lounge editor firstname.lastname@example.org @shalinimb