Clean Break

Meet the artist who is obsessed with cleanliness – in the streets, on the walls and on bank notes

Artist Prasoon Poddar is rankled by dirt.

Does dirt bother you? Does it bother you enough to make you want to do something? It rankles Prasoon Poddar so much that he became obsessed with the idea of creating art around the subject. “All of us want a Swachh Bharat, but none of us wants to work towards it,” said the 32-year-old artist.

Poddar was always attracted by the idea of cleanliness in temples and around them. It amazed him that the walls around temples are covered with posters of job openings, counselling sessions, even posters of gods in temples. “My work mainly discusses the issues related with public places, especially ‘public walls’ and how these walls are treated by the public,” said Poddar. His installation The Laal Wall has metal taps emerging from a red-coloured surface – and around the taps are posters, some torn, some readable. The installation aims to highlight the hypocrisy of people who visit temples barefoot because they want to keep it clean but splatter posters on walls outside to get the attention of the thirsty.

Poddar’s previous project was on manual scavengers. He says he chooses such subjects because he feels strongly about the cause of cleanliness. “We are all pseudo-intellectuals,” he told sbcltr. “I am not only concerned about what is happening inside the walls of my home but also outside. Each day, hundreds of unwanted posters grow on walls, like a fungus infecting a man.”

His latest obsession is currency notes – he wants to highlight how people ruin them by scribbling on them. Visibly agitated, he says that “people write god’s name or try to ape the recent Sonam Gupta Bewafa hai trend even on currency notes. It’s like we are obsessed with rambling and destroying, no thing or place is ever left clean”.

This article first appeared on sbcltr, a website designed to curate alternative trends in need of a voice.

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