Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Shut Up! Keep Quiet! I have the right to speak

The Politician (TP) was as usual at his best i.e making a fool of himself while trying to whip up emotions. It was a function to mark the inauguration of an art gallery. And he was delivering a lengthy speech to an indifferent audience least interested in listening to him. May be sensing the apathy he started a tirade against the modern art and the artists. Calling the artists ‘self-proclaimed intellectuals’ and ‘pseudo secularists’ TP attacked them for insulting Indian culture and tradition in the name of modern art. He was getting excited by his own speech and his words were becoming even more vituperative. Suddenly a voice from the back lashed out, ‘Don’t speak nonsense. Indian Constitution has guaranteed right to expression to every person. Don’t talk about art if you have no knowledge.’ Others joined this voice of dissent and called the political class a curse on mankind and booed TP back to his seat. TP had to relent and cut short his speech. It was ironical that the people professing right to expression interrupted and disrupted TP’s speech. Example for the hunter becoming the hunted, right!

PS: To tell from my personal experience, I have never been able to appreciate most of the things at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi. No ‘wowwws or aaahahs’ ever escaped from me during the 3 hours that we spent at the Gallery. And I had come to the conclusion that I would rather see myself in a Raja Ravi Varma painting and feel flattered than be depicted by, say a cubist, and feel confused! The fresh way of looking at things somehow does not inspire me much. I feel the attempt is, kind of, needless.

PPS: At the end of the art gallery inaugural function TP tried to have the last word when he said ‘without politicians artists are nothing.’ Sounds arrogant, but I was thinking of connoisseurs of art and patrons. The ruling class and the moneyed are very important for the survival of art and the artists. May be its a blanket generalisation but I don’t mind saying ‘behind every successful artist there is a generous benefactor!’ And isn’t it true that artists of all types flock to politicians nowadays for getting awards, nominations to upper house etc. They have to do it for the sake of their art otherwise their art is as mortal as themselves.

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