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At the heart of Sustaina India is learning that sustainability is a gradual and decentralized process of adapting to climate change. It cannot be imported and transposed, but needs to be built from the ground up across disciplines and demographics. When we received the invitation from CEEW over a year ago to establish a platform that could host conversations around art, science, and climate, we turned to material-based practices and solutions. As creators, we firmly believe in the power of materials to channel a sensorium of touch, smell, sound, and vision as paths to climate awareness and retention for the current and future generations.

Our inaugural fellows Debasmita Ghosh, Manjot Kaur, and Rachna Toshniwal echo this vision as they speak about the shifting lives of the Khond community in Odisha, present immersive environments with textures of forests, and weave tapestries with ocean waste that washed up on the shores of Alibaug near Mumbai. Together with fellows and other invited artists, Sustaina India presents a vast index of materials that revisit conversations around food, clothing, waste, architecture, forests, and non-humans.

At every juncture of this exhibition, we returned to the ideas of reducing, reusing, repurposing, and restoring to understand how feasible and challenging they are to follow. For instance, our cities provide alternative materials to art and exhibition-making: wooden panels made with crop residue, soy-based inks, and eco-friendly paints, all of which can align with existing practices of cultural institutions. As we continue to learn about the effects of climate change, it becomes our collective responsibility to share knowledge, find solutions, and hope that future generations will take the lead.

Thukral and Tagra + Srinivas Aditya Mopidevi
New Delhi, 2024