Monday, 24 October 2011 the time of hypedom!

Morning potty-reading constitutes the newspapers as the start of my day. On days when I am rushing like a mad cat with a burning tail , with the clock ticking ominously and Begum my cat tripping me for fun, I merely glance at articles and headliners before plunging into my studio. But this Saturday was different. Though I had only slept at 6.30 am and was up again the same morning at 8.30  to get back to working on a project I just had to read the articleBore of the Year 2011 by Mihir Sharma. It was as though this young man had telepathically connected up to my brain and had transcribed my horrified reactions to the grand NDTV Indian of the Year Awards night that really was more like a stand up comedy show. I caught a snippet of it and stopped in my tracks in utter disbelief. The event was just so outrageously ridiculously and came across as a trumped up "let's feel good about ourselves" network exercise. Somehow Pranoy Roy just fell in my polls in that instant.

The camera kept panning to the who's who in the audience who all looked a trifle awkward and embarrassed as they shifted uneasily every time Annaji scribbled his repetitive spleege in a note book. The faithful lieutenant of course showed us the notebook each time to prove the authenticity of "good boy doing homework". What was funny is that the notebook looked strangely blank in the glare of the camera lights! Arvind Kejriwal of course looked every inch the common man  in his white shirt and light coloured pants. You could even imagine the sweaty armpits that is a must-have to accompany such an avaatar. Perhaps Arvindbhai had also been warned by Kiranben that his shopping bills may well be traced to the big city malls by nosey fact finders!

All in all, Barka Dutt and gang  cut a sorry figure on stage that night with the "lets wear our halo's act tonight".  The whole tamasha read as  a we made Anna Hazare a popular "white guy" (read that as new lingo for clean guy) pin up idol, so hey, we need TRP ratings in exchange! You owe me-I owe you  appears to be the new deal-breaking mantra. 

Perhaps the show may have received a standing ovation and a 5 star review rating if the NDTV anchors had taken a 24 X 7 vow of silence too! A room full of power hungry people and a puppet show on stage made me realise that the sanity of democracies seem sadly in question.

My ratings for the snippet of viewing that bored me to tears.......a falling star upon which I wished that better sense prevailed!

Monday, 17 October 2011

By the back door entries....

Almost everyone who desires to buy art in India wants to by-pass the gallery system to skip paying the commission! Surendran and I are among a rare handful of artists who choose to only accept projects and invitations that will be handled by the gallery that represents us. We do not have any contractual agreements signed with our gallery that binds us legally in any way; yet our own discipline demands a stringent adherence to these self- imposed ethics because we believe this to be a correct professional attitude within which to conduct our art practice.

Anyone who is familiar with the Indian art community should be aware of how each artist chooses to operate. Therefore it is surprising and rather amusing too, that Surendran and I are repeatedly approached by independent clients with offers  to negotiate  deals with them directly, with the expectation that  the gallery that represents us will play no role in the management of the project on offer to us. We are very clear in our  communication regarding the role that we choose for our gallery to have within all projects that we undertake, and find it irksome that people somehow don't quite believe that we prefer this as a personal choice.  In  executing works of art, and especially major projects, there are far too many factors of management involved that are cumbersome and impossible for an artist to handle alone. A gallery system is the scaffolding that allows for an artist to remain undisturbed from having to deal with the logistics of dissemination and commerce, and in fact safe guards both the artist as well as the client equally.

Indian art entrepreneurs need to become more savvy in their understanding of the relationship of the artist with their galleries. To presume that if they wave foreign clients and talk big money that artists will therefore compromise  their principles and ethics seems to suggest that they have no idea how organised a sector the art world is fast becoming. No international artist of repute anywhere in the world will negotiate projects without an agent and/or a lawyer present. It is time for the art entrepreneurs to please take stock of the current frame works of art management in India; and come to terms with it. My advice to them is to also  do their home-work please, and know the artist they are approaching. That way we can all quash the silly ping-pong communication and cat and mouse games played, and get on with our own agendas. You know it is true......that's the way....aha, aha,.....I like it....aha, aha! 

Sunday, 16 October 2011

I am a Mama's Boy!

"I am such a mama's boy, and I love it!" An email message from my son recently, that brought a huge smile to my face as it brought home the wonderful realisation that a generation of feminist intent has percolated; allowing for the confidence of our male progenies to exhibit with  unabashed pride, their affiliation to the influence of  their mother's on them; and remove forever the slur of "mama's boy" being a derogatory term.

There are certainly less of the stereo type divides  between the sexes these days. Men are from Mars and Women from Venus maybe true sometimes, but  vanity and fashion have brought these two universes quite comfortably to co-exist in each others spheres. Pumping iron at the gym is no longer just for the male bastion alone,  and beauty parlours are equally the weekend retreat of the guys who may ride in on their Hayabusa's for the spa relaxation "me time"! Technology too has become a tool that has become the common DNA of bonding of all the urban upwardly "mobile"; and social networking sites the common unisex playground where anonymity and masquerade are the prerogative of both!

The "feminine side" in men today is seen as a plus point in heterosexual relationships. Macho is definitely out; and smart boys trade in their loud and boisterous ways to become softer, minding their P's and Q's to find greater acceptance in the world of shared spaces with women.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger look is so passe. Abhi baby brought in chubby cheeks again, and Aamir Khan made being short schoo cute no?! Brains and suave have replaced raw brawn; with hints of spicy floral infusing men's colognes and boxer shorts in pink and pastel colours making an entry into the bedrooms of the hunks with their babes!

I love the new age man; the metrosexual, the mama's boy! Amen and hallelujah!!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Owl stories from midnight children...

There was something I did not realise when I lived in a small apartment. That it was so much easier to manage things, and that in a matter of seconds I could get from one end of it to another completing a thousand and one things in a blink of an eye! Ok, I exaggerated about the thousand and one things; but the truth is that I could pack in a lot of juggling and manage it all by virtually stretching my arms in true Durga style without needing "boost as the secret of my energy!"

Right now I am at boot camp time....that is the computer is booting and I am camping near it! With an air conditioner that has decided to weep copious tears down the side of one of my studio walls, and my studio looking like a war zone with troops marching about, I may well just dive into some corner of the world of virtual reality and slip out of this mad house for a while.

My half Parsi legs grow whiter as I see the sun light less each day! Like a mole in a hole I sit hunched over my computer and bash at keys and squint at monitor screens with my friend who has flown down for the third time to help me "stitch" my imagination together. Old friends over decades, we sit in happy silence, snapping at each other occasionally as only old friends can do without any pangas erupting, than goodness!

The monitor is propped up against a mountain of cushions not unlike the bunkers of a war trench, so that we could turn it on it's side to accommodate the image more accurately. Begum comes through this new labyrinth with gleeful determination to wreck and plunder, as she hops from paint trolley to computer table to the water colour table, then  on to the CPU and then tunnels out via the wires, to creep behind propped up canvases and topple over brush jars and pull at my apron strings before embarking on some other mad cap venture that her fur brain cooks up!

The studio has a charged air about it with the three of us loonies mucking about like wound-up toy soldiers on a mission impossible, with batteries in over drive. I will head down to my bed when it is closer to dawn and go through the absurd rituals of a hot shower and the mandatory daub of perfume; and only them will I creep into bed,  to wake up a few hours later..... and go through the same rituals of ablution before popping back into my studio, perfume and all!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Princely sum of rupees thirty-two!

I was in Bangalore yesterday to open an exhibition "the Bigger Picture II", organised by the Indian Foundation for the Arts at the Grand Ballroom of the Leela Palace. Curated by Abhishek Poddar this exhibition showcases the works of 89 Indian contemporary artists who have come together to support this fund raising endeavour, that aims to nurture residency projects, public art practices, collaborations, documentation and research and experimental enquires within the arts, as well as alternative educational modules that engage with art, music, dance, writing and theatre. Supporting the arts is an area of awareness that needs far greater committed attention; and where I believe the private sector can play a major role.

Getting up at 4 am to catch an early morning flight to get to Bangalore, I had the television on to keep me awake. Listening to the continued coverage of the attempts of the government to excuse the faux pas of attempting to pass off rupees thirty-two as a minimum wage, I felt deep shame at a nations callousness to the plight of those who make up a significant majority and who remain, even after all these years of independence and supposed progress, voiceless regarding the inequality of their plight. We are getting nowhere with governance that is riddled with only damage control, crisis after crisis; and where for every two steps forward that we go, we do a mile in reverse!

The issues of how and why money should be spent wisely are never discussed with children. And so we have generations of young people who pour out of our educational institutions each year, without a clue as to the power they possess that can bring change to the dynamics of true progress. My dear friend Ripan Kapur, who founded CRY, was amongst the few I knew who carried his passion in small dreams and made big inroads into creating platforms to focus on issues of development for underprivileged children. His buy-a-brick to build a school program was such an imaginative and simple module that could engage all children to comprehend philanthropy. Today we have the big money culture that breeds the big party syndrome and perpetuates wastefulness as a mantra of social snobbery. We have so, we flaunt, is the calling card of the jet setting who's who, with very few who stand apart from this norm.

My dream is to always hope that each of us understand how little things can make a difference, and how collective collaborations can make big dreams a reality. Joy for me is the idea that another person who is not as privileged as myself can also hold their dream and possess the ability to realise it; and for this to occur we must embrace the desire to be involved with things outside of the immediacy of our own existence and lend support to upliftment and economic advancement for all. Our legacy is imprinted in our motivation to create positive modules of life and dignity; and so dear Mr. Montek Singh Aluwalia, rupees thirty- two a day is a nightmare and one that surely you have never encountered. So wake up to a reality check and get it right. You are in public service and that should mean something to you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Left right left right pyjama deela topi tight....

That a rape verdict takes nineteen years to be pronounced when an entire village was brutalized, and all it's women raped,  speaks volumes of the need for reforms within our judicial system. That it took the villagers three years of insistence before their  FIR was filed holds true that corrupted power continues to be the cancer of this nation.

I have had the harrowing experience of filing an FIR after a traffic police van rammed into my car; and I escaped being injured by a mere whisker. My car was badly damaged through no fault of mine, and the police attempted all methods of cover-up and contaminating the scene of the accident to save the culprit since he was "one of them"! Though the print media covered the case meticulously for three days, my FIR though filed, never say the light of day and no action was taken. It was as if NOTHING happened!

The police stations in India are territories that  are full of swaggering crude men who hold little respect for women.  With the stench of urine and sweat hanging heavy in the air, men in ill fitting uniforms occupy positions of authority that are never subjected to close monitoring. Women are mostly objects of titillation for those who sit behind those desks at which people are supposed to take their problems. Most often the "time pass" syndrome has kicked in to seal off any potential of conscience keeping that these men may have once felt.

Most often these jobs do not get selected by  individuals for reasons of committed service. As a result it is for making a quick buck and using the uniform as a tool of power to serve oneself that gives the police a very bad name, in most instances. That rape and plunder, genocide and harassment, and above all apathy can be often seen as the calling card of the police force of India,  is indeed a sad state of  governance.

Today with the countries attention on the Punch and Judy show of P. Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee taking center stage, stories of women being mercilessly beaten by cops in Bihar's Nalanda's district for staging a peaceful protest and desiring to file a missing persons report, seems to have been put on the back burner  of our conscience. Que cera cera....whatever will be will be?  Good grief, those are corny lyrics of an old song! Who ordered this to become the new refrain of our National Anthem ? Perhaps the uncomfortable truth to that answer is you and me.