Monday, May 14, 2007

Press Release from the Faculty of Fine Arts, MSU, Baroda

On the 9th of May 2007, Wednesday, outside elements forced their way into the premises of the Faculty of Fine Arts at 3.30pm and caused not only immediate closure of the examination work that was underway but got the police to take the MVA final year student, Chandra Mohan, into custody. They resorted to abusive language, threat of bodily harm and despite all this were allowed to go scott-free. It is a matter of great concern to us. Unfortunately we are now under pressure to offer apologies for permitting display of the allegedly offensive paintings. We the undersigned are firmly of the view that whether we like it or not an artist has the right to express unconventional views in a work of art. The intention of the said works were not to hurt anybody's sentiments but to examine taboos in the light of creative investigation. They were certainly not intended to cause hurt or outrage to any public sentiment whatsoever. Besides, they were not part of a public exhibition. If anyone felt that any work 'offends' their sensibility it could have been brought to the notice of the authorities without resorting to abusive, indiscriminate and uncalled for behavior. In the unfortunate circumstances if any published image, seen out of the context, has caused hurt to anybody it is regretted.

It is pertinent to state that the said works were part of the final year annual display. The display is part of the annual examination process and an internal academic matter of the faculty over many years and not an aberration in the academic procedures of the Faculty. Hence the disruption caused is an attempt not only to disrupt the process of evaluation but designed to undermine the stature and autonomy of an educational institute of international repute. There were attempts on the part of Mr. Niraj Jain and the mob accompanying him to paint the pictures as "anti Gujarat" and to inflame passions so as to cause maximum damage. It may also be noted that these very people were seen to be moving around with impunity, threatening and abusing students and teachers. This is a cruel irony in view of the fact that it is the Faculty of Fine Arts that has made substantial contributions toward placing Gujarat and Baroda on the international cultural scene along with making equally substantial contributions in enriching the local environment.

It should be categorically stated that Mr. Niraj Jain did not want to discuss anything peacefully with the Faculty authorities and was, in fact, aggressively contemptuous of them. He came with the intention to cause disruption and breach of peace. This amounts to willful disruption of the examination process and wanton violation of the autonomy and sanctity of the Faculty of Fine Arts.

The action constitutes an assault on the core values of the University or for that matter of any academic institution in a democratic country like India. If situations such as the above are allowed to prevail, it would not only undermine the fundamental freedom provided to us by the Constitution but also render it impossible for the faculty and its departments to function independently and meaningfully.


irving said...

Where there is no freedom of expression, there is no freedom of thought.

Anonymous said...

There are two aspects to this. The obvious one is to make a political issue out of anything and gain publicity, climb the party ladder and so on.

What is being missed out in all this outrage is the prudery and sexual repression in India bursting at the seams on the slightest pretext.

Whether it is about TV channels, film stars, school texts or art, the sightest whiff of sex is enough to set off the fuse among the great guardians of public morality.

However, popular song and dance films and other forms of exposure are perfectly legit to these same blessed souls.