Christiane Brosius: Delhi as Festival City: public art ecology (2008)
This talk explores the ways in which parts of the city are shaped, if not “branded” by public art festivals. I shall explore one case in particular: 48°C Public.Art.Ecology, a three week long festival and public art experiment organised by the Goethe Institute, the Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), with support of the Delhi Government, in 2008. Through a number of art interventions and panel discussions o ecology and environment, in various public spaces around Delhi, the festival tried to draw a diverse audience into the world of an urban and critical imaginary that defines the ideal of the global city as a “green-and-clean” city. A host of local agents, such as architects, curators and art consultants, were part of the team that generated a web of 8 sites, all well connected through the new metro system, and meaningful to the urban imaginary and everyday politics of recreation in Delhi. Indian and international artists created art works and installations at those sites, engaging with collective memories, the notion of public space and environment, attempting to facilitate discussions and participation with respect to climate change. To me, this festival, spatially manifest as well as intangible, and a collaboration of a series of glocal agents and organisations, is an in-between space through which globalised concepts like responsibility for the environment, the “public” but also “hygiene” and “discipline” as ideals of consumer-citizenship were examined, contested and negotiated. The paper will also address concepts such as the beautiful city and creative cities, besides asking about the relationship of public art and environmental concern in the context of the rising middle classes in neo-liberal India.
The ethnographic data underlining the presentation come from interviews with organizers, artists and urban planners.