This semester, for the mass communication subject we are all required to maintain a blog unto which we upload the assignments given to us. At first, I thought I could do it here, but then again, this blog is personal, plus I thought the assignments would be dull and too academic to be included here, and the first one actually was.
The second assignment though, the one that I uploaded just a few minutes ago was pretty interesting. We had to read an editorial and critique it. Upon receiving the assignment, I just wanted to be done with it…Obviously. And today was the last day to upload it, again.. Obviously! This is the blog address: http://www.scepticalonpurpose.wordpress.com, my username is sangsentranced! How cool is that! 😉 😛
So, I sat down with a heavy heart to type out a few words and get it out of ht way. I chose an article that dealt with art, since I can bullshit more about it than other subjects cuz I’m more comfortable with it. To my surprise, it turned out to be quite a fun task. So I thought you guys might enjoy reading it as well! So, Here it is:
All art is political in the sense that it serves someone’s politics.
The editorial in question is titled It’s time for art to be political (find it here ). It appeared in the Bengaluru issue of The Hindu, on Thursday, December 10, 2015.
The author, Deepanjana Pal lays down her opinions about how art in India should behave and how it must be received by the society. Her examples of examples of political art/actions by artists stretch from The Divine Bovine by Siddhartha Karawal to M.F.Hussain, Shilpa Gupta and Bhupen Khakhar’s watercolour dated 1994. These illustrations are no doubt accurate but it is in providing them that she seems to defeat the whole premise of her argument.
She states, in the rider “Indian art has always been well behaved, determinedly steering clear of politics.” but goes on, as established above to provide examples to the contrary. The article, on the whole, operates on a larger assumption that until recently, art in India has been stagnant and apolitical.
The questions that I, as a critic will be asking/examining are: What is, according to the author political? She does not justify her statement throughout the article but resorts to a mere repetition of the word. There is an overall sense of ambiguity in her assertion about art and its seeming neutrality.
She constructs quite an arbitrary connection between the words “Political” and “Politics”, the headline carries the former while the kicker utilises the latter. So the question that remains unanswered is the assertion of the author herself.
Art, or as the author considers it, fine art has never been apolitical. Moving further from her example of political art in 1994, we see that Raja Ravi Varma, now touted as one of India’s greatest painters was ostracised by the society for his female nudes. Can this not be considered a political statement? The notion of the female body as being sensual and erotic was no stranger to Indian myth before the advent of this controversial artist, but it had always been shrouded behind the veil of religion and Varma’s art contradicted this popular sentiment.
Once this argument enters the fray, the statement about the lack of art’s political affiliation becomes null.
The author does argue a better case for the lack of response to contemporary art. She posits that the audience for art in India is paltry at best and this audience is ignorant of a larger portion of art that is not, in a sense popular. Thereby rendering both the art and the artist safe although it is this safety that prevents them from stirring the change that they undoubtedly aspired to.
It is important to recognise the role that controversies play in the domain of art, It brings forth into the public sphere, the art that is otherwise thought to be a bourgeois space, it is generally cordoned off to clean rooms, champagne, relatively silent exhibitions and superficial interpretation.
The language is exemplary and the examples provided by the author is historically correct but contextually and logically wrong. The article requires a better perspective. It not only needs to take a firmer stand, but needs to possess the facts to support said arguments taking care not to contradict them.