News articles-Week 3

From this week

General

Case studies-Blank Noise and Theater for Living

BLANK NOISE

WHAT IS THE ARTIST TRYNG TO DO?

  • Spread awareness about sexual harassment; open dialogues; give a new perspective to it; and thereby encouraging voluntary action.
  • Aims to shift responsibility from women to the public and legal systems.
  • To change attitudes-Victim: You aren’t alone. Face your story. Face your harasser.

Public: Make a conscious effort to intervene.

HOW DOES THE ARTIST TRY TO CREATE A DIALOGUE vs POLARISE AN ISSUE? WHAT ARE THE STRATEGIES USED?

I personally think this organisation inculcates a bit of both the aforementioned elements i.e, of creating a dialogue and polarising an issue.

The online events that enable the victims to express and put across their experiences, would entail a larger constituent of creating a dialogue. Most often, this is a pre-cursor to the process of forming opinions and consequently polarising an issue. But according to me, this non-profit group along with the one mentioned later (theatre of living), have in them a rather definitive quality of open-ended dialogue that doesn’t necessitate a conclusion.

STATEGIES USED:

  • Street theatre, performance art, protest.
  • Partnerships with groups working in urban slums.
  • Online blogs, stencilling, posters, T-shirts, etc.
  • Opinion polls (non –confrontational dialogue)
  • Mapping( red fingerprint-opens up dialogues),
  • role playing (wearing something they wouldn’t usually wear in public)

WHAT IN YOUR VIEW IS EFFECTIVE AND IN-EFFECTIVE ABOUT THIS ARTISTIC ACT?

  • Effective- Acts do spread awareness (online, streets, parks, bus/train stations); Dialogue adds another layer to a previously condensed, compact unit of polarised opinions; does change attitudes. Evidence lies in the fact in the fact that various other collectives have now collaborated (partnerships) and made this organisation viral in their cities.
  • Ineffective or rather questions- How successful is it in making the required amends in the country’s law against sexual harassment? How much is it directly attacking and affecting the perpetrators?

 

THEATER FOR LIVING

 

WHAT IS THE ARTIST TRYNG TO DO?

  • Theatre for dialogue- You don’t come into it with the agenda of convincing the other person.
  • Address social issues and create conflict resolution.
  • Looking for versions of the same story.
  • Listening and finding commonality.
  • Being in the “other’s” shoes by role playing. “Ideas of how we turn people into the other and how we turn into the other.”
  • Ask the ‘real’ questions- ones we usually don’t have the answer to.

HOW DOES THE ARTIST TRY TO CREATE A DIALOGUE vs POLARISE AN ISSUE? WHAT ARE THE STRATEGIES USED?

  • Approaches community-based cultural work as system-based perspective.
  • Personifying huge entities of the society (eg: corporations) to be able to relate to the issue better and to find an ‘access point’ when it comes to solving the same.
  • To not try to change the ‘entity’ but to change the relationship we have with it, hence, changing the power-play involved.
  • Active audience participation creates a very interesting dialogue that exposes layers that were never considered before.

WHAT IN YOUR VIEW IS EFFECTIVE AND IN-EFFECTIVE ABOUT THIS ARTISTIC ACT?

  • Effective-The non-verbal images often made more of an impact than the conversations the characters had, in the fact that it was more open to interpretation that the restricting framework of speech.

 

Book and song

Book

The excerpt I’ve chosen is from a book by Audre Lorde, an African American feminist and civil rights activist. The book is ‘Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches‘ and the excerpt is ‘Poetry is not a luxury‘.

In the book she talks about the european way of living in which, life is seen as a problem to be solved, and that ideas are the only way to set ourselves free from it. However, the non-european mode of living encourages us to see life a s a situation to be experienced and interacted with. This would be the only way we can harness the hidden power within us which can fuel our dreams and the lasting action it requires. Poetry, according to her is the distillation of these experiences. It becomes the keystone to our survival, as we, as women, carry within us the ability to fuse both these approaches.

Poetry then, can never be a luxury. It becomes the essence of our womanhood, the necessity of our existence. Through poetry we set off a chain of events, starting with making it into language, then into idea and finally into tangible action required to fight against social injustice.

She elaborates this by saying, “Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought…As they become known to and accepted by us, our feelings and the honest exploration of them become sanctuaries and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring ideas.”

She goes on to say that there are no new idea, but only new ways of making them felt! We should inspire ourselves and others around us to listen to our dreams and take up the renegade actions that these call upon. Take this strength from the fathomless reserve of power we all have within us.

I’d like to end with a quote of hers that goes like this,”For within structures defined by profit, by linear power, by institutional dehumanization, our feelings were not meant to survive. Kept around as unavoidable adjuncts or pleasant pastimes, feelings were meant to kneel to thought as we were meant to kneel to men. But women have survived. As poets.  We have hidden that fact in the same place where we have hidden our power. They lie in our dreams, and it is our dreams that point the way to freedom. They are made realizable through our poems that give us the strength and courage to see, to feel, to speak, and to dare.”

 

Song

The song I’ve chosen is Cherry Wine by Hozier. Here are the lyrics.

HOZIER cherry wine

As we read the lyrics, it becomes evident that the narrator is a man being abused by a destructive woman. On the contrary, when we look at the video, the lady is the one being abused.  It’s a good choice considering it allows Hozier to use his own voice and call out to abused men, while also acknowledging abused women. I think this is the primary meaning.

However, the lyrics could also be read in reverse, about a man abusing a woman and justifying his actions. They say all abusers are narcissistic and so, they project their actions onto the other person; blaming them for it. It is very well written in that regard. It can also highlight the fact that two people can abuse EACH OTHER at the SAME TIME, in many different and unique ways. A point that is often over looked as it edges very close to victim shaming. The song could easily be about an emotionally abusive woman in a relationship with a physically abusive man, or vice versa.

According to me, the fact that this song brings out so many angles to the same story, makes it a fine example of both, critical art and critical thought alike. It has a strong symbolic element and encompasses within it the whole message.

 

 

Illustration, image and object.

While brainstorming through the events of the protest, the main themes that came to mind were the following,

  • The fight against secrecy.
  • The need to abolish the concept of separatism when it comes to man and nature.All for one, one for all. If it affects earth, it’ll affect man. Few obvious examples seen with the Kudankulam protests would be the dire consequences of nuclear radiation and waste disposal.
  • Local consciousness is evident.
  • Teetering balance between two distinctive narratives/ value systems.
  • Chain reactions: 1) technical errors –> their concealment –> small scale local protests –> large scale organised protests –> executive action(police violence).       2) actions by people (state+public) –> environmental impacts –> people again.

Illustration

IMG_20160816_123650_560

This is based on the need to destroy this illusion of separatism between man and nature.

I’ve shown this by the obvious fusion of both forms. The conceptual symbolism of this illustration also includes how, if we attain this state of togetherness, we’d find ourselves breaking free of the multitude of delusional shackles that this society has bound us with and fly high, towards a better tomorrow.

proc5 gif

This GIF that I created speaks about the chain reactions that I mentioned earlier, mainly focused on the actions of the government and the consequent reactions of the public. This GIF quite literally depicts the inner workings of the government in the form of the second layers of the individual blobs, which triggers the larger blobs around it (public reactions/protests), which then eventually causes a more widespread, chaotic disruption if not looked into and solved in time.

Image

butterfly

The image I clicked also revolves around the theme of oneness between nature and man, between technology and…life.

However, when looked at closely, this image makes one ponder upon the relationship between the two. How affable are they? The butterfly sure is adding to the appeal of an otherwise somber picture, but as an individual entity, has it skittered off to find another flower, perhaps one more alive? Is this what we are doing to our blue ball of life–making it bare to the decaying, irrevocable damages of our actions? Would we find ourselves leaving behind something that used to once thrive in our presence but can now barely stay alive in the same?

I liked how this image carries in it the ability to interchange roles. In the first, straightforward context, man is represented by the switch and in the second, he embodies the butterfly. Would this then, in a twisted way, be an extrapolation of my first point of man and nature being one and the same?!

Object

IMG_20160816_125659411_HDRIMG_20160816_125711265_HDRIMG_20160816_130611970_HDRIMG_20160816_130742933_HDR

This simple combination of a chain and a lotion dispenser, is used to depict the trigger reactions. The dispenser has a spring, which is the best initial domino that sets the rest going. And to add to that, the spring is inside a translucent compartment which portrays the often witnessed, veiled activities of a corrupt few.  Why a chain to represent the public, you may ask? This is because the chain may be something compact and solid, but it is also flexible, or in some cases can be interpreted as gullible. This chain is wrapped around the tube which goes to show how the two metaphoric entities are closely bound.

As I press the dispenser, the spring sets forth a series of events which then, after a few tries, displaces the chain completely off the end of the tube. This again shows, how the brunt of the situation is taken on by the public.

Reflection-Week 2

Today’s class in itself had an element of critical thought and action as it added more layers by recapitulating points discussed in the previous sessions. It widened our views about the role artist played in this malleable world of ours.

When it comes to the new concepts that came to light, I especially liked one quote by Olivia Gude which aptly described the dual awareness possessed by artists, one which is conscious of our inner experience and the other, which encompasses interactions with the outer world.

She also goes on to say ,”a pre-condition for fully joining in the democratic life is the ability to sustain a sense of identity when not immersed in a collective.” This made me contemplate on the concept of originality of an art work, or any idea for that matter. Omnis-cellula-e-cellula. A cell originates from a pre-existing cell. Each idea we have is always a reconstruction of a prior one. I wonder if  there can ever be complete originality when it comes to creation. It is a continuous process of change. One provided by the previous generations. Our basic foundation to any creation is always set. It already exists. So, how unique are we in our identity? And more importantly, if this originality that we so covet in our work, is indeed even a necessity when it doesn’t exist?

The concepts of public pedagogy and the pedagogical turn that contemporary art is now taking, gave us an insight into how the changing sensibilities are in turn widening the ways of information realisation by the masses.

Paul Chan’s quote about artists knowing a world unlike any other seems to resonate with my point of people fearing the unknown and the ability of artists to appreciate as well as interpret it. Picasso wisely states that all of us were born artists, but only a select few choose to remain artists. Does this mean that at a subconscious level, every single one of us has it in us to inhabit that third world of the infinite unknowns?  Where our knowledge lies in our acceptance of all things unknown? Where art becomes our channel as well as our destination?

 

Acts I agree and disagree with

A brief recounting

Human rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila will end her 16-year-long hunger strike, one of the longest in world, against an Indian controversial law that gives special powers to the Indian armed forces in areas affected by insurgency. She now plans to contest the 2017 elections in her state Manipur in north-east India as an independent candidate.

Called the Iron Lady of Manipur, the 44-year-old has been on a fast since 2000 to protest the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), a law gives Indian soldiers powers and legal immunity to shoot to kill, conduct raids and arrest people without warrants.

Sharmila will finally conclude her hunger strike on August 9. In the last decade-and-half, she was mostly fed through a nasal tube and lived under house arrest at a government hospital in Manipur’s state capital Imphal. She has been charged under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code for attempting suicide. As the maximum punishment under this law is one year, she has been periodically arrested, released and then arrested again. Her quiet protest has drawn global attention, and Sharmila has been given numerous international human rights awards. In 2013, Amnesty International declared her a Prisoner of Conscience.

 

 

When it came to this particular issue, I had points of action that I agreed and disagreed with. Her previous method of starvation to revoke the AFSPA didn’t quite sit well with me, as it was an option that should’ve been changed into one that would give immediate, direct results. This I thought could be more successfully achieved by her recent decision to fight for her cause by contesting in the coming elections. However, the discussion in class lead me to see it in a new light. Even though her silent protest didn’t result in the government budging about the repeal, it undeniably set off a monumental trigger in the hearts of the public, the evidence of which emerged as  various art forms, both tangible and intangible. To inspire and move one person, let alone hundreds, is an act worth commending.

 

The fact that she moved onto a newer strategy, shows that her practice is ever-changing and sensitive to the situation at that moment.