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What will be my defeat?
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Atul Bhalla


Atul Bhalla joins the course of the Elbe from Hamburg to the North Sea and listens to the questions that the river poses to the people.
A photo performance with photographs by Helge Mundt.
Twelve banners, 300 x 380 cm each.

What will be my defeat?

Taking of from an episode from the Indian epic Mahabharata, in which the Pandavas, the five princes, during their last year in exile reach a body of water and want to drink.

But a voice from the water stops them. “Answer my questions before you drink”.

The four younger princes drink not heeding the voice and die, the eldest prince Yudhistra, to be king, says “Examine me!”

Then come a series of 54 questions all of which the prince answers. I list some of them separately from Jean Claude Carrier’s script for Peter Brook’s Mahabharata.

Why should the author, in this case Ved Vyas, if one takes the Mahabharata to be only a piece of literature (!), which it is not, want the questions to come from a body of water?

What does that signify?

I take some of those questions and reformulate them for our times (!) of our attempts to control the river.

Atul Bhalla

Series of images outside the barge Caesar in the Hamburg HarbourCity from September to Oktober 2011:

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For the "PROJECT Y: A Yamuna-Elbe Public Art and Outreach Project" in Delhi, Atul Bhalla created a pendant to the Hamburg version of "What will be my defeat",
composed of twelve questions placed on light boxes, bottle forms and pit holes:

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More by Atul Bhalla


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