Atul Bhalla : Yamuna, the holy river
Yamuna Walk is the photographic account of the 22 kilometers that Atul Bhalla walked along the Yamuna river over the course of four days. The Yamuna originates north of Haridwar in the Himalayas, flowing south-east. After passing through Delhi and Agra, it empties into the Ganges at Allahabad, in Uttar Pradesh. After the Ganges and the now-dry Sarasvati, the Yamuna is one of the most sacred river in India. Atul Bhalla transcribes into images his path along the banks of the river, from Palla, a village north of Delhi, to the border of the Indian state capital. The book is divided into five chapters, each introduced by a list of words referring to emotions, natural and man-made elements, and encounters that the pilgrim-photographer gleans during his voyage. From the first image, a photo of a riverbank covered with trash, Atul Bhalla associates the pollution of the river with the purification that gives it its sacred character. Therein lies the central theme of this work: how does beauty of a near pristine nature, in which man lives in symbiosis with his environment, turn into waste and ugliness as a result of urban growth? How does the environment built by humans alter the nature of water, symbol of the divine. These are questions that the artist examines throughout his work in photography, performance and installations.
Atul Bhalla trained in Delhi and at the School of Art of Northern Illinois University. He works in different media: painting, sculpture, photography, video and performance art. He is work has been exhibited in Europe and the United States.
Atu Bhalla, Yamuna walk
Sepia Eye, New York in association with the University of Washington Press, 2012