Community Spotlight: Avril Unger

When Art Meets Air Pollution

In February 2018, Avril Unger, a performance artist collaborated with Jhatkaa, a Bengaluru-based advocacy and campaigning organization for her latest piece, an art installation on air pollution.  Read about it here and here.

An excerpt from the news piece:

You’d probably be perplexed at the sight of her, performance artist Avril Stormy Unger wearing an air pollution mask, clutching flowers in her hand, and sitting on an immense wooden chair alongside traffic-choked Old Madras Road. And seeing her again, the next day and the next. You’d become intrigued, curious enough to start asking questions – and that’s exactly the point.”

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Avril Unger is an interdisciplinary performance artist interested in disrupting social patterns while challenging the relationship between the audience and artist. Her recent works include public interventions around Bengaluru, site specific installations and collaborations with other artists.

A short Q&A with Avril:

What was your motivation for designing and executing this performance piece? 

 It started off as a part of another project, we were all asked to react to the city- my topic was fading wonder and since I come from a small town (Mangalore) when I came to the city it was filled with this magical wonder that soon faded. The first time I performed this piece I was surrounded by people who spent everyday in that area, the petrol station staff, the police etc. So it started becoming about them and the pollution that they need to withstand in order to do their jobs every single day.

Given the poor quality of the environment in India, how can artists and performers contribute towards this discourse?

I think artists should be active in increasing awareness of the issue, since this is something that is not given heed until it is too late. Small projects in their own communities and neighbourhoods will go a long way.

Are there any active collaborations between government, researchers and artists focusing on the issue of air quality?

 Not that I am aware of. Jhatkaa was the first time I performed with an organisation as until then I have been doing it on my own.

Find Avril on Twitter (@AvrilUnger).

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