Flower Fields, Ravi Agarwal, 2007
Ravi Agarwal is an inter-disciplinary artist, environmental campaigner, writer and curator. His work bridges the divide between art and activism, to politicize the entangled questions of nature and its futures. Using photography, video, text and installation he poses questions about ecology and society, culture, urbanity etc.
As an artist-researcher, Ravi has been exploring nature-human relationships’ influence on ecosystems for many years. The ecological crisis presents both a threat as well as an opportunity for new cross-cultural imaginations and alliances for sustainable ‘natures’ in the future.
“Nature and landscape in Switzerland are idyllic, utopian, technical, and clean,” says Ravi, “Beneath their veneer of smooth appearances lie complex factors like financial support, environmental norms, but also lost community relationships, earlier practices like farming, livestock, local economies.”
These seemingly idyllic landscapes of Switzerland, also deeply influence aspirational ideas of nature in India, says Ravi. “There are however complex differences and offerings in local cultures, economics, knowledge and nature-value systems etc. which can also be creatively productive. I propose to research these aspects from the ground up and examine artistic and pedagogical collaborations possible for sustainable futures.”
Ravi’s work been shown widely, including at dOCUMENTA XI, the Biennials of Havana (2019) Yinchuan (2018), Kochi (2016), Sharjah (2013) etc. He has curated large public art projects such as the Yamuna-Elbe, twin city project (2011), and Embrace our Rivers, an Indo- European project (2018), and was the photography curator for the Serendipity Arts Festival 2018 and 2019. He recently curated New Natures, A terrible beauty is born at the Goethe Institut and CSMVS Museum, Mumbai. He has edited books (The Crisis of Climate Change, Routledge, 2021; Embrace Our Rivers – Kerber, 2017), journals (Marg-Art and Ecology issue – April 2020, IIC journal Spring 2020), and publishes regularly on art and sustainability (Alien Waters in The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Art, Visual Culture, and Climate Change, 2021). His works are in several private and public collections. A Communications Engineer and MBA by training, Ravi is also the founder director of the environmental NGO Toxics Link and recipient of the UN Award for Chemical Safety and the Ashoka Fellowship.