Potholes and badly-maintained road surfaces are often a cause of stress and strain for local communities, but, as an Indian visual artist has demonstrated, there may be an unexpected and creative way to galvanize authorities into fixing the problem.
Only a day after Baadal Nanjundaswamy released a video of a space-suit clad figure ‘moonwalking’ over some of the potholes that have severely-damaged roads in his home city of Bangalore, the holes were promptly and dutifully filled in by authorities. The video, which depicts an ‘astronaut’ enacting a slow-motion walk over pothole ‘craters’, gained a huge amount of traction on Indian social media, with many people sharing stories of pothole road accidents in their hometowns, and thanking Baadal for trying to draw attention to the problem. Baadal claimed that no authorities had been in touch with him following the video’s release, nor had he reached out himself, but the potholes featured in the video and many others were fixed the next day nonetheless. He shared this post on Instagram to express his gratitude:
This isn’t the first time that Baadal has used his art to raise awareness about dangerous road conditions. In 2015, he filled a particularly large one with a life-size crocodile sculpture, transforming the 3.7m hole into a colourful, reptilian habitat. This piece similarly caught the attention of local authorities, with the issue being rectified by a group of contractors just days after the crocodile was installed.
Although using art to spotlight civic issues – particularly when the art garners such widespread attention on both social and news media – could be seen as merely a vanity project for Baadal, he thinks of his visual art as a way of ‘giving something back to society’. And, given his unquestionable success rate thus far, it appears to be working.