Cities & Architecture

Gallery: The Public Secret of the “World of Recycle”

An exhibition in New Delhi unveils and humanises the work of recycling in India, and the people behind it.

“India has traditionally had a culture of recycling, orchestrated by the quintessential Kabadiwallahs. However the magnitude and diversity of new urban waste creates new threats…”

So writes Aditya Arya, curator of an ongoing exhibition on recycling at the India International Centre, New Delhi.

The exhibition features the work of eight young artists, awardees of the Neel Dongre Awards 2016 in photography, as they capture the work and spaces of recycling, and the individuals who sift and sort through the tons of garbage the city produces each day.

The artists travel to landscapes both unfamiliar and familiar: landfills, industrial recycling plants, automobile junk markets, second-hand cloth markets and flower shops.

As they do so, they unveil, and humanise, the work and the people behind the “public secret” of recycling in India.

Here’s a sneak peek of the work on display.

Cheena Kapoor

This second hand cloth market run by Gujarati Waghari tribals is bustling, colourful, urgent. It is one of the many independent industries that plays a huge role in world trade, but whose impact is hardly known.

This second hand cloth market run by Gujarati Waghari tribals is bustling, colourful, urgent. It is one of the many independent industries that plays a huge role in world trade, but whose impact is hardly known.

Manu Yadav

These women collect the waste flowers left to be thrown out each morning at Gazipur market, and turn them into paper, cards and notebooks to sell. The photographer dedicates his images to "women who make something out of nothing."

These women collect the waste flowers left to be thrown out each morning at Gazipur market, and turn them into paper, cards and notebooks to sell. The photographer dedicates his images to “women who make something out of nothing.”

Siddharth Behl

Siddarth Behl 1

The workers at this construction and demolition recycle firm in Burari are marginalised, and even rendered invisible, by their mechanical surroundings.

Saumya Khandelwal

The Mayapuri Junkyard is a world where scrap overwhelms and creates startling juxtapositions. Here, the skill of "making do" is the only thing that carries one through the disorder.

The Mayapuri Junkyard is a world where scrap overwhelms and creates startling juxtapositions. Here, the skill of “making do” is the only thing that carries one through the disorder.

Shweta Pandey

These ragpickers are embedded, close-up, in the very medium with which they work - old dailies. Cyanotype, a method of printing blueprints, becomes the bridge between medium and subject. We are confronted with an ethical question: how apt is art in capturing social reality?

These ragpickers are embedded, close-up, in the very medium with which they work – old dailies. Cyanotype, a method of printing blueprints, becomes the bridge between medium and subject. We are confronted with an ethical question: how apt is art in capturing social reality?

Sreedeep

At an automobile junk yard, rituals and routines of rest and toil accompany a sense of community.

At an automobile junk yard, rituals and routines of rest and toil accompany a sense of community.

Monica Tiwari

The children's play contrasts in tragic irony with their desolate landscape. The harsh setting is humanised, its injustices exposed.

The children’s play contrasts in tragic irony with their desolate landscape. The harsh setting is humanised, its injustices exposed.

(Text written with inputs from Parthiv Shah, juror of the Neel Dongre Awards 2016, Aditya Arya and the artists themselves.)

“World of Recycle” is open for view until April 11, 2016, at the India International Centre, New Delhi, 11 am – 7 pm.