Life on Mars (series)

Ghungroos, fabric, wood & steel 72" dia x 3", 2019

“There are signs of flowing water on Mars, says the news, bringing an unexpected thrill to a Monday morning. We see reflected in our neighbour some of the potencies of our own liquid planet. With water comes the promise of life. Without it, all is latent.”

The project titled Life on Mars, encapsulates Galhotra’s artistic enquiry about the earth’s water resources and the possibility of interplanetary living in the age of Anthropocene, an epoch dominated by mindless human activities. The research began in 2013 with the Rover Curiosity (of NASA’s Mars Mission) finding evidence of water (and hence possibility of life) on Mars.

The crisis of water, already evident in the many water-related catastrophes and acute shortages, has made Galhotra speculate about the future of this vital resource, since long. This particular work is a culmination of her ecological concern for the planet and interrogation of the dystopian notions of living in another planet. Informed by the possibility of a new race amongst nations triggered by the space-missions, Galhotra’s project postulates a new scary form of colonization.

This mad race of conquering an unknown utopia can potentially lead to devastation of much of the earth’s resources and the tax-payer’s money. Besides, there is the terrible risk of leaving traces, creating the hazardous heritage of human waste in the cosmos. The project thus raises critical aesthetical and ethical questions against this futuristic drive, voiced by the ambitious claim of “a spacefaring civilization.

When NASA opened its visual archive of the Mars project to the public, Galhotra decided to use topographical images from different rovers in her work. The landscape of the Martian land became symbolic of an abstract and undetermined reality, which she sought to deconstruct and reconstruct by sewing each ghungroo (trinket) to mimic the image-pixels of the red planet. Though presented as a new destination in the hope of survival, Galhotra is sceptical that this may be a form of escapism to run away from the consequences of our ‘human’ exploits.

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