Art Critic

I’m home, which means I get a lot more time to ruminate over the three newspapers which I make a point to scan cover to cover every morning.

I don’t somehow do that much in the hostel, the newspaper at Mangalore somehow puts me off completely, coz there isn’t much city-specific news [the presence of which IMHO makes a newspaper less impersonal], and if there is, it is normally about the menace of houseflies in the fishing season, and the odd stabbing at Ullal or Puttur. And, I didn’t used to watch news channels at hostel like I can at home.

All that makes me feel like Rip Van Winkle now. And it puzzles me just WHY someone thinks artwork depicting nudity is obscene and deserves to be put down. And why that someone would bring in that perennial scapegoat Indian Culture into it.

My concern in this issue is not about changing sensiblities and narrow-mindedness. It is about infringement on Freedom Of Expression. A democracy guarantees Freedom of Expression. Hence there are bound to be different opinions, some of which may not necessarily agree with the others. But the entire spirit of democracy is in allowing such differences to exist, in allowing multiple views and interpretations of a situation, for allowing healthy debate to persist. And it is up to us citizens who run the democracy to uphold this spirit. In other words, I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend ’til death your right to say it.

It strikes me as unconstitutional that an individual or a group of individuals take it upon themselves to decide what is good, or bad for the nation’s moral values and act accordingly, stifling the creativity and self-expression of others, infringing upon others’ fundamental rights. One man’s Art will always be another’s paint-spattered-on-paper [IMHO the Mona Lisa looks way too ordinary to be worthy of attention], and face it, artists take pride in their work not being completely understood by everyone, and will always welcome a difference of opinion, if you care to exercise your FoE in such a way that it doesn’t affect others’.

I see that much-abused scapegoat for all things absurd and irrational – Indian Culture – disrobed, shamed and humiliated, her name taken by those unworthy of it. There is no dignity in her, like there is in the much-ostracized works of art depicting nudity. She weeps, but doesn’t have that poise and stateliness of Picasso’s Weeping Woman. She languishes instead, skeletonlike, in the closet, waiting to be brought out the next time someone wants a reason to vent out their frustration at the prudery and hypocrisy that keeps them from breaking out of their own prudery and hypocrisy.

Edit: I’m not the pseudo-secularist this post makes me look like. I would say the same thing about banning the Danish cartoon, banning Satanic Verses, issuing fatwas on Rushdie, the Danish cartoonist, and the Miss World contestant from Afghanistan.

Edit 2: It was suppressed information that the person who filed the FIR was incensed by the painting of Christ. Indian Media, WHY?

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
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11 Responses to Art Critic

  1. AnSVad says:

    hmm… strong thoughts there. agree with you though.

  2. the Monk says:

    What is the point in having an opinion (or having Freedon of Expression) if it doesn’t affect others? It’s ok to offend, if you have conviction in your beliefs.

  3. wanderlust says:

    @ The Monk:
    i didn’t say others, i said others’, by which i mean the freedom of expression of others. in a democracy, you are free to express yourself as long as you don’t infringe upon the fundamental rights of others [except of course in cases like the Emergency, but that wasn’t quite democracy there, was it].
    and, you might have a racist opinion, doesn’t give you a license to discriminate on that basis. it’s not ok to offend there, is it?

  4. Malaveeka says:

    I suggest yo look at Ajun’s rant.

    I agree.

    With both of you.

    Btw. Post of RK soon. Once the damned intenship gets over.

  5. Pavan says:

    Anyone who thinks that “Indian culture” is anti-nudism, should go visit Khajurao. Actually, Belur-HaLebid will do, I think.

  6. Secularism, and other issues aside, What if the artist/writer/News Papers / Shilpa Shetties etc, just create/exaggerate [ in S.Shetty case ], issues to cash in on the controversy.Well if there isn’t content/quality , atleast these people can get some attention through these means.Same applies to our media morons.Adding fuel to fire sells if you have some angry mobs to show.The Christ thing wouldn’t be worth their air-time [ since that’s the first parameter to news channels now ]
    Moral policing in any means is bad. No one would like the sangh-parivars etc defining what’s good for the public and what’s not.
    After the danish cartoons issue , South Park released a satirical episode on showing Muhammed. That kinda described that issue very rationally [ by SP standards that is ]

    P.S:- It was good to see that Voltairian statement [ defend to my death] after a long time…

  7. Tuna Fish says:

    hmmm, like “You can swing your walking stick can much as you want but only till it touches the other person’s nose” … I feel the same …

  8. harish says:

    These days its sort of fashionable to support anything that offends Hindus in the name of either ‘secularism’ or ‘freedom of expression’ and suchlike by people who I believe have no faith in what they appear to stand for. Just because you have freedom of expression doesn’t mean you can express in public whatever you want. Except for self-proclaimed handful of liberals not many supported Chandramohan’s art-shit. And people who have the guts to target Hindu Gods and Godesses, can’t even imagine doing the same thing to Gods of other ‘tolerant’ religions’. We all know how tolerant people were when Prophet Mohammed cartoons were released. We all know the kind of tolerance that allowed Satanic Verses to be banned. And the liberals-who-advocate-artistic-freedom on those occasions talked of not hurting religious sentiments. This hypocrisy cannot last long.

  9. wanderlust says:

    @tuna fish:
    that’s right.
    one quote from Shashi Tharoor’s Riot comes to mind on reading your comment:
    “why is it that muslims are proud to be muslims, christians to be christians, but hindus to be secular?”
    that said, it’s all the result of communists and dynasty politicians systematically denying our heritage to us and modifying history books to make us ashamed of our being indians, and following our customs that so suit us mainly coz they are time-tested and in-keeping with our climate, seasons and hence our way of life.

  10. Can’t one be proud of being a hindu and being secular at the same time? have heard ppl say that hinduism is the most tolerant of all religions and allows different philosophies to coexist.

    importantly, in trying to advocate us to become proud of being hindu, are we moving away from being secular?

  11. wanderlust says:

    It’s pseudo secular with double standards that’s the problem

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