Valay Shende crafted a life-sized transit truck, complete with 22 passengers, out of metal discs.
It’s 2008 and artist Valay Shende wants to bring awareness to the alarmingly high suicide rate amongst Indian farmers. He begins collecting thousands of small metal reflective discs before going into a studio and spending 18 months welding and assembling this art piece.
While it appears to be a truck covered in metal, it’s actually constructed from just the discs themselves. There was no pre-constructed skeleton to this sculpture. It’s a really impressive display of craftsmanship and the message it’s expressing is extremely heartbreaking.
Indian farmers are struggling to continue with their farm work and the number of deaths is devasting. Every 30 minutes, an Indian farmer is forced to commit suicide due to diminishing groundwater, industrial encroachment, expensive new seed varieties, falling prices of cotton and other crops. 2014’s sudden hailstorm in Maharashtra laid waste to more than $150 million worth of crops spread over 3,000 square miles.
Shende became familiar with the suicides and decided to bring awareness to it. The metal discs used on the 22 farmers in this piece, contain images of real farmers and their families who couldn’t handle the problematic farming.. In addition to this, the rear view mirrors have videos of cityscapes Shende shot in London, Mumbai and Dubai. “It gives a feeling that the truck is moving, but the people are actually not going anywhere, just like in real life,” says Shende.
“Farming in India is always a gamble,” said Atul Deulgaonkar, a Maharashtran author who writes about agriculture and development. “Even if everything goes well, the rains are good, the crop is excellent, still farmers cannot get a good profit.”
Shende has created tons of these kind of sculptures, all with a strong political message in one way, shape or form.
※ Liam Barr