India is a rapidly rising thriving economy and food habits have changed over the past few decades. Across the board not just India but the world, people are eating less cereals and pluses, replacing them with more fatty snacks, beverages and other processed foods. 2016 has hence been declared as the International Year of Pulses by the UN to bring focus on the health benefits of pulses. Pulses are super foods high in protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
India is one of the largest producers, consumers and also importers of pulses. Though we produce a quarter of the world’s pulses, cost of pulses such as tuvar daal has gone up by 100% to 200 Rs per kilo in the past few years and hence its no surprise that a large percentage of the population is protein deficient because we are still not ingesting the required 50 grams of protein per capita daily. Protein consumption has declined in rural areas and the gap in urban areas is wider between the poor and the rich. Rapidly growing population is increasingly putting the local production under stress and leading to import of pulses and cereals from other countries. Multiple factors such as excessive or lack of rain, poor road transport resulting in inefficient supply chains; a lack of cold storage facilities leading up to 30% of produce rotting wastefully, a rudimentary market structure favouring the retailers and stockists are all factors responsible for a complex multilayered problematic condition with no obvious or simple solution.The is further exacerbated by poor farming practices, regional floods, poor seed quality resulting in the farmer getting between 10- 23% of price paid by the customer losing the rest to middlemen. Many farmers struggling with loans and high debt have to cope with with mental and personal health issues have no other recourse but to put an end to themselves. The situation is dire indeed.
Pulse Art Residency is providing just the right platform for contemporary artists to respond to such urgent societal issues. Artist’s exist within the framework of society and therefore have the responsibility to engage with the issues faced by society today. Contemporary periods and social contexts also help develop and evolve their artistic activity. This activity should be a continuous burgeoning volatile beehive feeding off the current moment in modern society. It is or should be a frenzied churning, which ejects out new immediate responses offering alternative perspectives on current social existentialism. According to Bourriaud “The role of the artwork is no longer to form imaginary and utopian realities, but to actually be ways of living and models of action within the existing real’. The art object needs to offer a peek into the myriad possibilities and potentialities within a given moment and transfer it into the viewer. Without transitivity, the art object is nothing other than a dead object crushed by the act of self-indulgence by the artist. According to Godard, ‘it takes two to make a picture’. It is crucial for the general masses, that is mired with in the struggles of everyday, to be part of this platform. The art object needs to have social transparency where, in order to be successful, it is needs to create a sociable space to generate dialogue and discussion. This space of sociability then allows for the circular flow of thought between the artist, the art object and the viewer which then flows into society and back to the artist.
It is important for more state and independent organisations to encourage such socially engaged art happenings as it expands the general understanding that, the role of art is more than creating something to merely to look at. By encouraging socially relevant art, one becomes inclusive of the general society from which the art and artist is born. Art comes from society; it exists for and within society. It plays a significant influence in the constant shifts and upheavals that is a given part of the human condition.