Bhalla, Atul b.1964 / Submerged Again
Additional images
Bhalla, Atul b.1964 / Submerged AgainBhalla, Atul b.1964 / Submerged Again
about this work
As an environmental activist whose works usually make use of his own body, Atul Bhalla attempts to bring public awareness to the eco-political significance of water. For the past two decades, Bhalla has been concerned with the ecological implications of urbanization processes in India, and with the reciprocal relations between the growth of metropolitan areas and the pollution of rivers. In many of his works, Bhalla returns repeatedly to the sacred Yamuna River, Delhi's main source of water, and documents the industrial waste and sewage poured into it from numerous factories. Bhalla's focus on the symbolism of water as a source of life, purity and cleanliness that preserves historical memory and knowledge enables him to call public attention to those responsible for polluting it. The series "I Was Not Waving But Drowning," which includes the diptych Submerged Again, documents the artist's gradual submersion in the river until only the crown of his head remains above water. The title of this series alludes to the British poet Stevie Smith's Not Waving But Drowning (1957) – a poem about a drowning man whom observers mistakenly perceive to be simply waving to them. This work was photographed in the Lagatpuri area in the vicinity of Delhi, one of the most polluted areas of the river. The act of submersion in the polluted water, which may prove lethal, underscores the fate shared by man and nature, and points to the inextricable connection between the concepts of purity and impurity.
(Tel-Aviv Museum of Art, June 2012)

Atul Bhalla (b.1964, India)

Submerged Again, 2005

Archival pigment print on arches
Edition: 1/2
114 x 170 cm
44 7/8 x 66 15/16 in.
Sepia Eye Gallery, New York, USA Current Location:
UK - London - G4Si PhotographSouth Asia


Critical Mass
Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel
June 2012 - December 2012

Beyond the Self - Contemporary Portraiture from Asia
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia
August 2011 - November 2011


Hila Shkolnik Brener, Critical Mass: India is in Tel Aviv
City Mouse, Tel Aviv, Israel (Magazine), June 4, 2012

Critical Mass: Contemporary Art from India
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel (Catalogue), 2012

related works / South Asia / Photograph