Who Owns the Water?

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Artist vibha cooking by the river.

Join us for a panel discussion with contemporary Indian artist Vibha Galhotra in conversation with Lubna Ahmed, Director of Environmental Health, WE ACT for Environmental Justice; Heather Davis, Assistant Professor of Culture and Media, The New School; and Upmanu Lall, Director of Columbia Water Center, Alan and Carol Silberstein Professor of Engineering, and Chair of the Department of Earth & Environmental Engineering at Columbia University to address the pressing question inherent in her new project Who Owns the Water?. Galhotra’s artistic practice focuses on the constant negotiation between humans and our ecosystem and her current long-term project centers around the state of water.

Following the discussion, Galhotra has invited renowned chef Divya Alter of Divya’s Kitchen to create Ayurvedic snacks to demonstrate the philosophical role of water in this ancient cuisine.

This public program is organized as part of Galhotra’s project Who Owns the Water? which is commissioned by Asia Society’s Creative Common Ground, an initiative that expands contemporary performance practice by commissioning, producing, and presenting interdisciplinary performance works. Creative Common Ground is supported in part by a three-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Lubna Ahmed is an environmental health enthusiast with a strong dedication to environmental justice. She holds a BA in Psychology from Miami University and an MPH in Environmental Health Science & Policy from The George Washington University. Prior to her time in NYC she served as an Environmental Educator with the Peace Corps in Nicaragua. In her current role as Director of Environmental Health at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Lubna advances WE ACT’s efforts to improve environmental health in communities of color and low-income through promoting public health awareness, education, coalition-building, and advocacy.

Heather Davis (moderator) is an assistant professor of Culture and Media at The New School. Her current book project examines plastic in relation to petrocapitalism. She is the co-editor of Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies and editor of Desire Change: Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada.

Vibha Galhotra is a New Delhibased contemporary Indian visual artist who works with numerous artistic mediums, ranging from sculpture, photography, printmaking, video, installation, drawing, and text. Her artistic practice crosses the dimensions of art, ecology, economy, science, spirituality, and activism. Galhotra was an Asian Cultural Council fellow 2017 in the US, continuing her research on the role of belief and reality to intervene on the subject of Anthropocene. She was recently an awardee of the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio residency in 2016. She studied art at Kala Bhavan Santiniketan in India, where she completed her Masters in 2001.

Upmanu Lall is the Director of the Columbia Water Center and the Alan and Carol Silberstein Professor of Engineering, along with being the Chair of the Department of Earth & Environmental Engineering at Columbia University. He has broad interests in hydrology, climate dynamics, water resource systems analysis, risk management and sustainability and is motivated by the challenging questions that lie at the intersection of these fields, especially where they have relevance to societal outcomes or to the advancement of science towards innovative application.

Event Details

Thu 07 Nov 2019
6:30 - 9 p.m.

Asia Society
725 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021

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Members $20; Students/Seniors $22; Nonmembers $25
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