Ravi Agarwal

Ambient Seas

Diary Notes
Oct. 12, 2013 to Aug. 17, 2015

Author: Ravi Agarwal

Softbound 60 pages with more than 35 colour plates
Pages with text 22
Published by The Guild

The diary was first released in original on the occasion of Agarwal’s solo exhibition with The Guild on October 11, 2015 at Alibaug.
It has now been published by The Guild in a  limited edition of 500, each signed and numbered. An additional 200 copies have  also been printed which will not be editioned.

Between October 2013 to August 2015, Ravi Agarwal spent time at a small fishing village, near Puducherry.  In association with local fishermen, he sought to explore their cultural and political relationship to the sea, which has been central to them from time immemorial. . A first encounter with the sea and its ecology, it was new grounds for Agarwal’s ongoing exploration about questions of  the politics of sustainability, environmental inequity, and embedded cultural  views through which ideas of ‘nature’ have been formed.  A diary, which was part of the exploration, along with the camera, and an engagement with ancient  Tamil Sangam love-landscape poetry gave rise to a set of new reflections. It  put into sharp  focus, the shifting nature of the social, political and family life of this coastal region.  The diary observations come in a time when  contemporary ideas of the Anthropocene and debates around sustainability have become important. In the context of small fisherman and a different cultural milieu than that projected by the classical human-non-human binary, they bring forth a  set of evocative personal observations.

An excerpt:

“…The beach is always busy. There is activity nearly all the time. Early, predawn the beach comes alive as boats head out to sea. It is still dark, and there is barely enough light to see the silhouettes of the boats. As light strikes the sands, one can see nets, bunched up in piles and covered with plastic tarpaulin. On the far end of the beach are make shift thatched huts, where the fisher-folk store nets, boat parts, anchors, and also sleep in at night.  As the day progresses, the boats start to come in with their catch. The nets are spread out and the fish or rubble caught in them are removed by hand. Some are luckier than others.  The fish are piled in bunches, and it is then one sees the fisherwomen appear. They will take the fish to the local fish market to sell them. The men stay back to clean and if need be, to repair the nets. This activity continues for most of the day, till early forenoon. Some larger boats come in later in the day from their longer trips, and sometimes they need to order in large trucks with crates filled with ice to carry a very large haul to the market. The smaller boats however almost always have a small bag full of catch at best, which needs no trucks or containers to carry them. These are best hauled by hand, like in plastic bags.

The difference in the two economies is distinct and apparent. Economies are not necessarily democratic” 


Ravi Agarwal is a photographer artist, writer, curator and environmental activist. He explores issues of urban space, ecology and capital in an interrelated ways working with photographs, video, performance, on-site installations and public art.  Agarwal  has  participated  in  several  institutional/Museum   shows  including Kochi-Muziris Biennale, 2016 curated by Sudarshan Shetty; documenta  XI  (Kassel, 2002) curated by Okwui Enwezor;  Sharjah  Biennial  11  (2013) curated byYuko Hasegawa ;  Zones  of  Contact:  Propositions  on  the Museum, co-curated by  Vidya  Shivadas,  Akansha Rastogi, Deeksha  Nath,  Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Noida,  2013; The  Needle  on  the  Gauge:  The  Testimonial  Image  in  the  works  of  Seven  Indian Artists, curated by Ranjit  Hoskote, Contemporary Art Centre of SA, Adelaide,  Australia, 2012; Newtopia, curated  by  Katerina  Gregos,  various  Museum  venues,  Mechelen,  Belgium,  2012;  Critical  Mass: Contemporary Art  from India,  curated by  Tami Katz-Freiman and Rotem Ruff,  Tel  Aviv  Museum of  Contemporary Art,  Israel, 2012; Z.N.E!,  Examples to Follow!,  curated by Adrienne Goehler,  traveling exhibition, Berlin, Mumbai,  Adis Ababba,  Beijing;  Horn Please, Kunstmuseum, Bern, 2007, curated by Bernhard Fibicher and Suman Gopinath; Indian Highway 2009 , Serpentine Gallery, curated by Julia Peyton-Jones, Hans Ulrich Obrist  ; Generation in Transition: New Art from India, Zacheta  National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland, and Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania  curated by Magda Kardasz;  The Eye is a Lonely  Hunter:  Images  of  Humankind, at Fotofestival Mannheim_ludwigshafen_Heidelberg,   curated by Katerina Gregos and Solvej Helweg Ovesen;  After  the Crash at Museo Orto Botanico, Rome.  His solo shows: Else all will be still at The Guild, Alibaug, 2015; Gallery Espace, 2016; Of Value and Labour, at The Guild, Mumbai, 2011; Flux: Dystopia, Utopia, Heterotopia, Gallery Espace, New Delhi.  Agarwal recently co-curated a twin city public art project, Yamuna-Elbe.Public.Art.Outreach. He writes extensively on ecological issues, and is also founder of the leading Indian environmental NGO Toxics Link. He is an engineer by training.

To order your copy now, please email us at the_guild2003@yahoo.co.in / theguildart@gmail.com

Limited signed and numbered edition: 500  
Unsigned 200 book

Price: Numbered and signed edition: Rs. 3000/- each + postage Rs. 200/- in India
USD  50/- for overseas including postage

Price: Unsigned book: Rs. 1500/- each + postage Rs. 200/-      
USD  24/- including postage 

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