As athletes from around the world arrive in London ahead of the games, the anticipation is mounting. Here in our East London offices, we are waiting for a delivery from India. It’s not the team, it’s a remarkable, multi-sensory art installation by acclaimed Indian artist Samar Jodha. The installation will be open to the public, free of charge for two weeks from this Thursday, to highlight the link between Dow and the games, and consequently Bhopal.
In 1984 between 7,000 and 10,000 residents were killed immediately by a toxic gas leak from a pesticide factory in Bhopal. Over the next 20 years a further 15,000 people have died and the site is still contaminated, affecting over 100,000 people.
Today Dow Chemical, a sponsor of this year’s Olympic Games, owns the company responsible for the leak. However it has never properly addressed the on-going impact of the catastrophe on the people of Bhopal.
Samar Jodha’s temperature-controlled metal container recreates the wintry night of the 3 December 1984 in Bhopal with 3D images, blow-torched mannequins and a soundscape. The soundscape starts silently, and there are notably no alarms or sirens throughout. Just the noise of crickets and the hum of the factory. The sound of gas escaping from the factory can be heard as the viewer moves through the container and towards the end of the journey, the sound of the first Bhopal victim struggling to breath.
Entering Jodha's installation is likely to be a very harrowing experience. We have of course issued an invitation to LOCOG, the committee organising the London Olympic Games, as it would provide a useful context for them on the public outcry about their defence of Dow.
The good news is Pure Evil will be attending. That’s the street artist Pure Evil and he is going to be spray painting on our building. Exciting stuff.
If you can come to see the exhibition over the next few weeks, please do. But if not you can still get involved, by e mailing Seb Coe, to ask him to retract his committee’s defence of Dow Chemical and to apologise to Bhopal's survivors. For more information visit www.amnesty.org.uk/dow
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