Choice of weapons

"TO BE or not to be": one is immediately struck by the stark bipolarity suggested by the title. The show, presented by Max Mueller Bhavan and the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature, is about the destruction of nature by industries: it would seem that the alternative to nature being destroyed is, in fact, a complete debunking of urban contemporary lifestyles. This belief then sets the tone for the rest of the show: pessimism and gloomy tales.

It finds the little strength it has in the odd visuals. Ashish Kothari's photograph of the airconditioned, "microclimate-controlled" World Health Organisation building, with the lung-choking Indraprastha thermal power plant as the backdrop, tells an ironic, cheerless tale. N Thiagarajan's hapless victim of the Bhopal gas tragedy is a poignant capturing of the forms and extent of toxic gas penetration. However, the one big disappointment is the metropolitan slant of the Indian section, as well as the exhibition planner's inability to conceptualise pollution in less grey, more imaginative terms.

---Bharati Chaturvedi is a founder member of Srishti.