The art of protest
A talk at a city museum hopes to acquaint enthusiasts with the importance of art arising out of activism
Walls smeared with graffiti, posters bearing slogans and placards hanging outside university campus canteens demanding justice — these are not purely incidental or dispensable instances of various protest movements, but as much a part of history as the engravings inside an old and forgotten cave. If activism is a reaction to society, then the art that comes out of it is a tangible reflection of those movements. And it is the casual redundancy of this art that Professor Shivaji Panikker hopes to reverse with his talk this Saturday.
Murals on the walls of Jawaharlal Nehru University campus
Titled Art-Activism Versus Art in Political Propaganda, the public lecture has been organised in association with the Dr Bhau Daji Lad City Museum and is an extension of an eight-year-old PG diploma course in Modern and Contemporary Indian Art and Curatorial Studies. "Indian art practice has developed through engagement with the political, social and other important issues that have influenced all important cultural practitioners from various periods. Artists and thinkers have also engaged with international practices and this needs to be understood to gain better insight into the importance of art," says Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, museum director, explaining the larger conversation that they are hoping to foment with this talk.
Shivaji Panikker and Tasneem Mehta
Adding to that, Panikker, who is an art historian and faculty at Delhi's Ambedkar University, says, "I taught an MA elective course titled Art and Public Response: Censorship, Dissent, Protest and Resistance in Contemporary Practices for the winter semester in my university in 2017. This lecture was the last component in the course, for which I did fresh documentation and reading. So, it is an extension of such learning and teaching processes."
For the talk, Panikker hopes to bring out the difference between art that is produced as propaganda material including posters murals and performance in actual activist protest locations like universities and public protest like the queer pride march or Not in my Name.
He intends to juxtapose incidental art of this kind with art that is produced in relation to socio-political issues so as to understand and highlight the contrast between the two. "The art produced in the context of protest and propaganda is not treated as art with throw value and hence art history and museums should find a way to collect, write, and preserve such art," he argues, summarising what to look forward to at the lecture. The session is open to all including college graduates and those interested in learning about art interpretation, art history and curatorial practices.
ON February 16, 6 pm onwards
AT Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Education Centre, Byculla East
Email email@example.com to RSVP
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