A small part of Yamuna bank in Delhi is aglitter with beauty in the dark. The river is dotted with a string of over 1,000 bottles lit with fluorescent LED sticks drew light patterns across the water.
This is the ‘Yamuna-Elbe Public Art and Outreach Program’ that is an initiative to connect the river Elbe in Hamburg, Germany, to the Yamuna in Delhi.
This initiative contains a series of public art projects and installations to raise awareness about the river, its sustainability and ecology and sensitize people to the riverfront to experience it as a tangible urban heritage. The installations and art pieces are made by artists like Atul Bhalla, Sheba Chachi and Gigi Scaria.
The project has been co-curated by Ravi Agarwal and Till Krause. Agarwal is a Delhi-based environmentalist-artist while Krause is a land artist from Hamburg
Agarwal was reported to have stated, â€œThe project is an effort to create ecologically sustainable rivers in cities. We wanted to draw more people to the river. People in the capital rarely visit the river. But ever since the project has started, it has drawn a steady stream of visitors. People have to see the river and decide. No amount of description in newspapers or in the media can compensate for physically experiencing the river.
The project is situated near Loha Pul, an old iron road and rail bridge near the northeastern corner of the capital.
Among the attractions here are an orchestra of wind instruments and percussion from around the world that recreat the story of Yamuna in a concert, “Stories Through Sound” by multi-percussionist Suchet Malhotra and western folk musician Glenn Louvet.
The concert used such wide variety of instruments like the horn, didgeridoo, bongos, frame drums, darbuka, djembe, pipes and flutes.
Malhotra said, â€œWe used at least 60 instruments. This symphony was created specially for the Yamuna project. This is the first time I have told the story of a river through my music. Composing the symphony was a revelation. We discovered in the course of our research that at least three billion litres of sewage is being pumped into the water. Such facts disappoint people, hence the music to raise awareness about the river.â€
Agarwal further added about the programs, “Public art has to be appropriate to the city’s discourse and speak to the people as well about contemporary concerns. People have to be attracted to public art here unlike in Hamburg which has a lot of public art.â€
The project was inaugurated by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.