Restart Podcast Ep. 43: A life in art, activism and electronic waste with Ravi Agarwal

27 June 2019

Ravi Agarwal is a multifaceted artist and activist based in New Delhi. We hear Ravi’s reflections on his life between disciplines, and we learn about the work of his NGO, Toxics Link. We talk about the toxicity of e-waste and the threats it poses to people working in recycling sites.

Reconstituting the Other: the State of Nature

Renuka Sawhney

Ravi Agarwal’s work takes the forms of photographs, videos, installation, research and writing on pressingenvironmental concerns and activism. In Else, all will be Still, Agarwal integrates these varied forms into complexenunciations of his engagement with specific bodies of knowledge; Agarwal tackles the epistemologies of natureand ecology placing them in a dance with the social contract through the ontology of its objects.

It’s in their nature: Artists hold event for environment

Heena Khandelwal, DNA

Can artists succeed where activists have failed? Environmentalists and animals rights activists have not got very far with opposing development projects such as the Ken-Betwa river-linking project which threaten to damage ecologically-sensitive areas, but a unique theatre project held in the capital this weekend tried to see whether art could work any better.    

This was a  staged‘mock trial’ named ‘Landscape as Evidence: Artist as Witness’ with participation by ‘real’lawyers – Norma Alvares and Anand Grover – and a ‘real’, albeit retired, judge – Justice Yatindra Singh, the former Chief Justice of Chattisgarh High Court. The  ‘witnesses’ were artists Navjot Altaf, Ravi Agarwal and Sheba Chhachhi who presented ‘evidence’in the form of artworks which were examined and cross-examined by the lawyers . 

ECOLOGIES OF LOSS – Ravi Agarwal – PAV Parco Arte Vivente – Torino

Melograno Art Gallery

9 March, 2019

Venerdì 8 Marzo 2019, il PAV Parco Arte Vivente presenta Ecologies of Loss, la prima personale italiana dell’artista indiano Ravi Agarwal. Con questa mostra, a cura di Marco Scotini, prosegue l’indagine del rapporto tra pratiche artistiche e pensiero ecologista nel continente asiatico, inaugurata con la personale dell’artista cinese Zheng Bo Weed Party III. L’indagine (che vedrà presto altri appuntamenti) cerca di fare il punto sulla “centralità dell’Asia nella crisi climatica”, come sostiene Amitav Ghosh.

Tra i maggiori esponenti della scena artistica indiana, da decenni Ravi Agarwal conduce una pratica inter-disciplinare come artista, fotografo, attivista ambientale, scrittore e curatore. Il suo lavoro esplora questioni nodali dell’epoca contemporanea quali l’ecologia, la società, lo spazio urbano e rurale, il capitale. Per oltre quattro decadi, la fotografia ha costituito il medium d’elezione per il lavoro di Ravi Agarwal, che ha poi conosciuto una dimensione più estesa grazie all’inclusione di installazioni, video, interventi di arte pubblica, diari, all’interno di progetti dalla durata pluriennale.

Generation in Transition. New Art from India

Contemporary Art Centre, Lithuania

December 09, 2011

The exhibition entitled Generation in Transition presents the artworks of a young generation of artists of Indian origin, living and working in India, as well as in America and Europe.

It is the first extensive showcase of contemporary art from this region presented in Lithuania. For about twenty years now, India has been experiencing an enormous economic and technological development, which has had a substantial impact on social structures. This change, with its positive and negative aspects, is frequently reflected in the works of contemporary artists, especially in those of the youngest ones who have grown up in these interesting times of transition.

Politics of a Planetary Future: An Interview with Ravi Agarwal

Caroline Picard, Bad at Sports

August 09, 2016

In 1887, The Illinois General Assembly reversed the  Chicago River, bringing water from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi instead of the other way around. Completed in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, the process ensured that the city of Chicago could reliably access clean water, despite the immense amount of industrial activity that relied upon and the waterway for production and trade. In 1999, the same lock system that made that reversal possible was acclaimed as the “Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium” by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Both the award and the accomplishment are surreal, like something out of a China Miéville novel, perhaps especially because of the notorious pollution the same river, and it surrounding neighborhoods suffers. This industrialized approach to natural resources is not unique. It is in effect around the world, with different countries reflecting different stages and impacts of a philosophical approach in which the environment is recognized as an instrument for human affairs. Based out of New Delhi, artist, curator, writer and activist, Ravi Agarwal works to unearth the complexity of humanity’s ecological and economic imagination, drawing connections between Europe and India, while comparing the implementation and impact of industrial methods.

Edinburgh Art Festival features of leading international and UK artists

The List
2 August 2018

At Edinburgh Printmakers, Indian artist Ravi Agarwal has his first solo UK show Nàdar / Prakriti, which is inspired by a research residency undertaken by the artist in the Scottish Highlands. Agarwal is interested in the pressures and challenges posed to nature in Scotland, a nation whose landscape looks an awful lot less unformed by human intervention than it actually is.


Arte.It – The Map of Art in Italy
08 March 2019

On Friday 8th March 2019, PAV Parco Arte Vivente will present Ecologies of Loss, the first Italian solo exhibition of the Indian artist Ravi Agarwal. Curated by Marco Scotini, this exhibition continues his investigation into the relationship between artistic practices and ecological thought in the Asian continent, begun with the solo exhibition of the Chinese artist Zheng Bo Weed Party III. This investigation (around which there will soon be other events), wants to take stock of the “centrality of Asia in the climate crisis” as claimed by Amitav Ghosh. 

Ravi Agarwal: In the Realm of Nature

Shreya Ray, Open Magazine
10 May, 2016

Ravi Agarwal’s photography forces us to ask: Is this what we do to nature? Is this what we do in turn, to ourselves?

Indian Highway – Contemporary Indian Video Art

Reykjavík Art Museum
September 9, 2010

The overall theme of the exhibition, Indian Highway, involves reflections on the importance of the road in migration and movement and as the link between rural and urban communities. The title also makes reference to technology and the ‘information superhighway’, which has been central to India’s economic boom. A common thread throughout is the way in which these artists demonstrate an active political and social engagement, examining complex issues in contemporary India that include environmentalism, religious sectarianism, globalization, gender, sexuality and class.

The Contemporary Indian Video Art is part of an unconventional travelling exhibition Indian Highway, which was first presented in 2008 at the Serpentine Gallery in London. The main curators of the exhibition—Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Directors of Serpentine Gallery, and Gunnar B. Kvaran, Director of Astrup Fearnley Museum, devise the exhibition to transform from one exhibition venue to another; they also introduce a radical curatorial model—“exhibition within the exhibition” where curators and artists are invited on an ongoing basis to apply new angles on India art, thereby allowing the exhibition to change its format and mode of expression.

India Art Fair 2019: On the edge, provocative and at times even revolutionary

Jaideep Sen, Indian Express
February 01, 2019

THE heightened sense of anticipation at the India Art Fair 2019 cuts like a knife through the clouds of winter smog hanging low over the NSIC Grounds of the capital. The shows of note at the festival are many, by a number of acclaimed artists from India and overseas, but a few names have everybody’s attention piqued like icicles in a snow storm.

“Else, all will be still”: Delhi photographer Ravi Agarwal at Gallery Espace

Art Radar
April 11, 2016

Ravi Agarwal’s body of work is a keen and sustained contemplation on questions of ecological sustainability, urban developmental practices, capital and the human conditions of those who share an intimate relationship with the nature around them. His latest solo exhibition “Else, all will be still”, running at Gallery Espace in Delhi from 8 April to 14 May 2016, is a further excavation of his preoccupation with these issues, particularly man’s relationship to nature.

Besides photography, Delhi-based Agarwal also works with video, performance, public art, in situ installations and found objects. He is a writer, curator and an environmental activist who has written extensively on ecological issues and is Founder-Director of the NGO Toxic Link.

Installation art makes presence felt at India Art Fair

Siddhi Jain, The Quint
February 09, 2019

Another work by Ravi Agarwal called “The Desert of the Anthropocene” is an installation with photographic works, text, videos and objects, and is a part of an ongoing investigation into the current state of the nature — both as a crisis which traverses a political realm, but also a cultural contestation of how ‘nature’ is thought of as an abstract idea to be exploited, in the era of the Anthropocene.

Ravi Agarwal - Ecologies of Loss

February 14, 2019

PAV Parco Arte Vivente presents Ecologies of Loss, the first Italian solo exhibition of the Indian artist Ravi Agarwal. Curated by Marco Scotini, this exhibition continues the investigation into the relationship between artistic practices and ecological thought in the Asian context, begun with the solo exhibition of the Chinese artist Zheng Bo. This research wants to take stock of the “centrality of Asia in the climate crisis” as claimed by Amitav Ghosh.

Emplacing and Excavating the City: Art, Ecology, and Public Space in New Delhi

Christiane Brosius, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

August 03, 2015

An interesting case study for the exploration of how government institutions today regulate space and thus to some extent the imaginaries of national identity, is Ravi Agarwal’s work Extinct. Over the past ten years the artist, originally from New Delhi, has made the interesting transition from environmental activist and documentary photographer to artist and, of late, curator. He has worked with art installations that address issues such as declining industries and labour conditions in the context of high capitalism as well as pollution and farming, often with a focus on the river Yamuna. His own work has been exhibited abroad, for instance at documenta 11 (2002), curated by Okwui Enwezor, or in the travelling exhibition Indian Highway (Bublatzky 2011). Agarwal’s work for 48°C was research based and dealt with Delhi’s last three remaining vultures—stuffed and preserved in a diorama in the Natural History Museum near Connaught Place.

Curating Photography: Ravi Agarwal

Shalmali Shetty, Art Dose
8th January 2019

Using photography to document the every day is becoming a fundamental gesture. Making notes, recording textual pieces of evidence and capturing visual experiences is being realised today with the basic use of the camera. Fulfilling both social and personal intentions, this contextualised and documented information becomes a visual reference that survives for a later date.

Curator Ravi Agarwal brought together seven photographers for his curatorial intervention at the Serendipity Arts Festival’s 2018 edition, showcased at the Adil Shah Palace. Titled ‘Intimate Documents’, Ravi Agarwal was interested in making a proposal to observe the direction contemporary photography is taking, and to get one to think about what is happening in photography today, over other forms of curatorial intent.

Chennai’s complicated relationship with its dying rivers, as chronicled by artists

Vinita Govindarajan,
February 20, 2018

Nayar’s project is one of the 13 installations presented at DAMned Art Project, an exhibition organised by the Goethe Institute of Chennai, which runs until March 4. The exhibition displays ideas and simulations of public art based on Chennai’s polluted rivers, curated by artists Ravi Agarwal and Florian Matzner. Over 20 artists from India and Europe visited the city and walked along its chemical-ridden waters, meeting local communities who lived on its banks, to come up with an idea for a piece of public art, depicting their individual interpretations of what the rivers mean to the city.

Yamuna - Elbe public art project

Asia-Europe Foundation
October 16, 2011

Project Y: a Yamuna-Elbe Public Art and Outreach Project is initiated by the Ministry of Culture, Hamburg, and carried out in the framework of “Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities”. It is held in the cities of Delhi and Hamburg between October 16th and November 23rd, 2011, almost in parallel.

MIA (Minneapolis Institute of Art) exhibit showcases modern art from India

Marianne Combs, Minnesota Public Radio
October 24, 2008

The MIA has quite a few objects from India in its permanent collection, primarily sandstone carvings, watercolors and jewelry, all centuries old. Curator Bob Jacobsen says the exhibition opening this weekend offers Minnesotans a more contemporary perspective on some universal themes.