Artist stands by artworks 'censured' at Goa festival
A day after two of his curated exhibits were barred from public viewing at the ongoing Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa, allegedly for oblique references to the ongoing CAA and NRC controversy, noted contemporary artist Sudarshan Shetty on Thursday said he stood by each of his artworks showcased at the event. He also slammed the arrest of four musicians who were performing as part of the festival's itinerary.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Shetty said that art spaces should be allowed to function freely.
"As far as the show I curated is concerned, why a caption saying an artwork could not reach on time for the exhibition due to transportation delays due to CAA protests in the northeast should be a problem," he said in his statement.
"Or why a few by chance scribbles on a white wall about the CAA or NRC by exhibition visitors using the ecologically sustained carbon ink pens that were on display or two poems of lament about the NRC and politics about immigration by poor men who have lost their family members to violence, should have upset or disturbed or frightened people, is difficult to accept," the statement said.
On Wednesday, two artworks with oblique references to the turmoil in the northeast and the CAA, were abruptly closed for viewing by the organisers of the festival.
One of the exhibits involving electronic broadcasting of Miyah poetry by Dalit and some poets from the northeast, which articulates anxieties faced by the Muslim community in the region, which is most affected by protests against the CAA and the National Register of Citizens, was suddenly off limits for viewing on Wednesday, the fourth day of the festival.
The other exhibit which was barred for visitors at the festival involved innovative showcasing of ink 'upcycled' from carbon from air-pollution emissions and enables carbon-negative printing and production.
As part of the immersive experience offered by the curator, visitors could scribble graffiti of their choice with the help of pens loaded with the unique black ink on empty canvases.
Shetty said that he stands by each piece of work exhibited at the multi-disciplinary event, which is billed by the organisers as one of the biggest art events in the country.
"I feel troubled and pained at the situation we have come to. Art spaces should be allowed to function freely and openly and must allow for free speech," Shetty said.
The organisers of the festival were not available for comment despite efforts.
On Wednesday four musicians from the 'Dastaan Live' band were arrested and later released on bail, after a complainant claimed that they had upset Hindu religious sentiments during their performance by hurtful references to the word 'Om'.
The Dastaan Live performance was a part of the Arts festival's music vertical and was curated by well known Bollywood music director Sneha Khanwalkar.