Satyre <$BlogRSDUrl$>

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Exercise Continues : Defending The Indefensible

From Painting the Art World Red

The right to take offence is not a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution, but all the same, it is the most easily enforced of all rights. All you need is a local demagogue with a taste for publicity, a few rampaging goons, policemen who favour the violent over the reasonable, and a lower judiciary that is reluctant to defy the mob.
True enough. If such be the case, why expect anything different? Would that not be unrealistic? And so, if it happens with increasing frequency, you have to get down to working within such constraints and reinvent your stymied imagination to flourish under such strictures. Would that not be a Litmus Test of the truly talented?
Both images insist upon the artist’s right to revisit inherited lore, to reinvent images and narratives, to integrate the sacred as an element of secular experience.
Hoskote needs to be more lucid than this. Try taking these words across to those who felt offended and make some sense to them. Explain it to them in a language that they can understand ( if Hoskote himself can understand what I am hinting at ). Would that not be a challenge worthy of those who subscribe to the label of the Intelligentsia?

Some other questions might be in order here - the Artist might have a right to revisit inherited lore ( devoid of the context in which it originally germinated ), but then he/she does not have to. What is the purpose of reinvention of that which has remained static over the years? What is that which you have arrived at, having reinvented / revisited? The rest of the sentence is drivel - what does it mean in a social / religious sense? What is the affronted man to make of it? And how? In tangible terms - How?
The group is everything, even if it is a fiction or a fraction; the individual is nothing. Paradoxically, in a Republic built to safeguard individual rights, one can bargain with the State and even force State action (or secure State inaction) by citing the sensitivities of a group. But one cannot make the same effective claim on behalf of an individual’s cultural freedom ... Thus, for instance, the VHP assumes that Hindu icons can exist only as objects in a Hindutva discourse. This explicitly denies the right of other discourses to construct them in different ways, as the objects of scholarship, of art, of good-natured humour, or of open-ended faith.
I am not so sure about the individual freedom bit. Aren't we a Socialist state? It is just too bad that the individual is subordinate to the commune, but then there are no issues that people have with each other as long as they take care not to get registered on each other's radar. Freedom exists as long as you do not parade your expression. That's not such a miserable equation for going about your business quietly.

All these images, which rank among the finest produced through the centuries in the subcontinent, celebrate the sensuous and the passionate dimensions of existence – which, in the Hindu world-view, are inseparably twinned with the austere and the contemplative
Celebrate? The Artist has to believe that it is celebration so as to justify that which he thrives upon - the reinvention and revisitation that was mentioned a bit earlier. However, it can only be taken with a pinch of Salt since we do not have the context of these paintings / works - what made someone create them? What they actually meant. Who is it who can categorically state that such is such and nothing else? Would it be justified to call these artists the "self-appointed" interpreters of Religion, Tradition and Culture? And then interpretation is always an interesting problem - if you do not speak the language, you can never be sure of what the interpreter is translating across. Cultural paranoia is not restricted to a lunatic fringe.

If anyone had a problem with Chandramohan’s images, for instance, surely they could have resorted to the old-fashioned option of talking to the artist?

Indeed. Would it have worked? Would such "talking" have been taken seriously by those who were supposed to be spoken to?

Democracy is not an achieved set of laws or a manual of instructions; it is a work in progress. It is a space that allows diverse imaginations to interact, it is a community of conversations.
Maybe there is need to extend the meaning of conversation to the incarceration of the Artist and his release from judicial remand. That's just the way it is. He spoke to the Law and the Law released him. Looking on the positive side, the given Artist has achieved publicity greater than he could have dreamed of and a ready market for his works. At a price he can quote.

Can we protect the right to artistic truth and the right to critique?
As Mr Hoskote puts it across in the paragraphs leading to this sentence - it is a process. The Artist has not been summarily shot ( as yet ).

...the vulnerable minority of cultural practitioners
Does this imply that only those who are Artists are cultural practitioners? What about those who have taken offence or spoken for Others - the silent Majority?

What Mr Hoskote fails to realise that Subversion does not come easy. Is he so distanced from the complexities of Reality and the nature of History to percieve that it is idiotic to expect the State and the hoi polloi to make is convenient for their perceptions and beliefs to be subverted by a handful of "cultural practitioners"?

~ Advocatus Diaboli

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