Greed | 2016
17th Asian Art Biennale, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy
“Where man had been, in every place he left, garbage remained. Even in his pursuit of the ultimate truth and quest for his God, he produced garbage. By his garbage, which lay stratum upon stratum, he could always be known, for more long-lived than man is his refuse. Garbage alone lives after him.”
– The Rat, Günter Grass
The advancement of human civilization is a grand narrative of struggle, survival, courage and progress. The epic achievement of ‘progress’ includes domination over natural forces, exploitation of natural resources – unnatural control over nature. For our own advancement, we, self-obsessed humans have brought the world towards a destructive future. For a ‘better’ life, to have more and more, we have engulfed ourselves in greed – greed that is so selfish, it eats up everything – forests, animals, oceans, air and even our own kind. Eventually, this greed will invade us too and destroy the fake plastic illusion of safety and comfort we have created at the expense of the natural.
Even our yearning for the lost nature is being repackaged and sold in the circle of greed; the word ‘organic’ hangs on billboards. Clean air, clean water and clean food have become rare items in this world. Human beings have become the biggest enemy of nature.
This project started years ago while working in a Santal village called Molanipara in Thakurgaon, Bangladesh. Being close to the community since my childhood, I have experienced the gradual changes in their lifestyles – how they gradually shifted their hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a modern agrarian one. Along with their lifestyle, their surrounding environment has also changed over time. Hybrid crops and excessive use of insecticides and pesticides have driven away foxes, owls, eagles and many other animals that helped maintain the biodiversity and ecosystem of the region. The rats that the Santals used to hunt before have increased excessively in numbers and have invaded their houses made of earth.
The hunter and the hunted – our world circles around this story.