March 4, 2011: Puts her in bed with Osama and chairman Mao. Says it’s his way of protesting against the Booker-winning author for supporting Naxals and Kashmiri separatists
These strokes are enough to give conventionalists a stroke. A naked Arundhati Roy caresses herself as she enjoys a threesome with the two blood thirsty figures of history, Mao and Osama bin Laden, and a voyeur-loving skull looks over their shoulder.
Artist Pranava Prakash’s ’Goddess of Fifteen Minutes of Fame’ sure promises him more than that, as the painter, who was last in news for his controversial nude painting of MF Husain, this time takes on the case of the activist-author as fearlessly as his subject herself.
"Arundhati represents all the intellectuals who are selfless promoters of all sorts of causes which can give them publicity. They are dancing to the tune of publicity as a hungry monkey dances to the tune of its master for a banana," explains the painter. He goes on to reason why communist leader Mao and Taliban mastermind Laden needed to be in bed with her: "Arundhati was seen supporting ruthless Naxalites in their war against innocent Indian citizens and then she was hobnobbing with merciless Kashmiri killers who were remorseless in their act."
Look at the painting carefully, and you will notice that Mao’s underwear shows the hammer and sickle sign of the communist philosophy, which Pranava thinks was "used as an excuse for the large scale killing of dissidents." He is shown reading his famous little red book, and there is a mechanical zip pasted on the corner of Arundhati’s lips, "depicting how far our intellectuals are controlled and governed by their masters", in this case Mao and Laden. Coins are stuck all over the canvas, as "a metaphor for all the glitz and glamour associated with being under the limelight all the time." The skull is, in fact, a lamp, the shade of which contains a fragmented part of Jammu and Kashmir.
Brush with trouble
The painter explained its name is borrowed from Arundhati’s now famous booker award winning novel "The god of small things", and Andy Warhols’s oft referred quote, "In coming time everybody will get fifteen minutes of fame". Prakash took around a month to complete this painting. In the exhibition, which is scheduled from March 22-28 at Lalit Kala Academy will have 15-20 other paintings. MiD DAY contacted Arundhati Roy for comment but she disconnected her phone saying, "I am not talking to the press." MiD DAY dropped an SMS on her mobile number which she did not reply to. Some even allege that in the garb of slamming other public figures, Pranava, himself, is aspiring to be one. But the artist brushes aside these charges. "An artist operates and works within the zone of exalted freedom. The only way he can legitimise his place in society when he stops being neutral and becomes an active participant in all the social debate ¦ may be start a debate on his own, which is exactly what I intend," he said.
And, no amount of criticism will stop him from flirting with controversy in the future. Pranava is ready to stir up another storm with another upcoming work, in which he shows underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and MF Husain in the same frame, juxtaposed with each other.
Even veteran artists don’t see anything wrong in a person expressing his/her thought by painting anyone nude. "It’s the artist’s way of seeing things and he has freedom of expression. If he paints somebody nude I don’t see anything wrong in it," said Subodh Gupta. Other prominent artists too see no harm in painting someone in the nude. However, some feel a creative person can express himself differently. "It is good that the artist liked Arundhati Roy’s writing but after seeing her talk about terrorism in Kashmir he was hurt. So he painted her in the nude and I feel he is within his rights. Even the similar trend was seen in foreign country and this form of protest was seen worldwide. But instead of painting her nude an artist could have also portrayed her differently. A creative artist can express himself differently," said Wasim Kapoor, a Kolkata-based painter.
About the artist
Pranava Prakash, who was born in 1979 is an artist working in neo-pop style. Pranava started the "Tuchchart" style with a group of Delhi artists, starting with his Tuchchart show (in 2007) in Delhi.
Pranava is known for his paintings on various socio-political issues like xenophobia. He has done his MBA from Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad and MBBS from Nalanda Medical College, Patna.
Arundhati Roy’s controversies:
Support for Kashmiri separatism
In an interview with a leading Indian newspaper, published in August 2008, Arundhati Roy expressed her support for the independence of Kashmir from India after massive demonstrations following the Amarnath land transfer controversy. According to her, the rallies were a sign that Kashmiris desire secession from India. She was criticised by both the Congress and BJP for her remarks.
Sardar Sarovar Project
Roy has campaigned along with activist Medha Patkar against the Narmada dam project, saying that it will displace half a million people, with little or no compensation and other benefits. Roy donated her Booker prize money as well as royalties from her books on the project to the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Roy also appears in Franny Armstrong’s Drowned Out, a 2002 documentary about the project. Roy’s opposition to the Narmada Dam project was criticised as "maligning Gujarat" by Congress and BJP leaders in the state.
US foreign policy, the War in Afghanistan
In a 2001 opinion piece in a British newspaper, Roy responded to the US military invasion of Afghanistan, finding fault with the argument that this war would be retaliation for the September 11 attacks. She disputes U.S. claims of being a peaceful and freedom-loving nation, listing China and nineteen 3rd World "countries that America has been at war with - and bombed - since the second world war", as well as previous U.S. support for the Taliban movement and support for the Northern Alliance (whose "track record is not very different from the Taliban’s").
India’s nuclear weaponisation
In response to India’s testing of nuclear weapons in Pokhran, Rajasthan, Roy wrote The End of Imagination (1998), a critique of the Indian government’s nuclear policies. It was published in her collection The Cost of Living (1999), in which she also crusaded against India’s massive hydroelectric dam projects in the central and western states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.
Criticism of Israel
In August 2006, Roy, along with Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and others, signed a letter in The Guardian called the 2006 Lebanon War a "war crime" and accused Israel of "state terror." In 2007, Roy was one of more than 100 artists and writers who signed an open letter initiated by Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism and the South West Asian, North African Bay Area Queers and calling on the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival "to honour calls for an international boycott of Israeli political and cultural institutions, by discontinuing Israeli consulate sponsorship of the LGBT film festival and not cosponsoring events with the Israeli consulate."
2001 Indian Parliament attack
Roy has raised questions about the investigation into the 2001 Indian Parliament attack and the trial of the accused. She called for the death sentence of Mohammad Afzal to be stayed and denounced press coverage of the trial. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has criticised Roy for what it alleges is defence of a terrorist going against the national interest.
The Muthanga incident
In 2003, the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha, a social movement for adivasi land rights in Kerala, organised a major land occupation at a former Eucalyptus plantation in the Muthanga Wildlife Reserve. After 48 days, a police force was sent into the area to evict the occupants-one participant of the movement and a policeman were killed, and the leaders of the movement were arrested. Arundhati Roy travelled to the area, visited the movement’s leaders in jail, and wrote an open letter to the then Chief Minister of Kerala, AK Antony, saying "You have blood on your hands."
Comments on 2008 Mumbai attacks
Roy has argued that the November 2008 Mumbai attacks cannot be seen in isolation, but must be understood in the context of wider issues in the region’s history and society such as widespread poverty, the Partition of India, the atrocities committed during the 2002 Gujarat violence, and the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. Her remarks were strongly criticised by Salman Rushdie and others, who condemned her for linking the Mumbai attacks with Kashmir and economic injustice against Muslims in India.
Criticism of Sri Lanka
In an opinion piece, once again in a British newspaper (April 1, 2009), Roy made a plea for international attention to what she called a possible government-sponsored genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka. She cited reports of camps into which Tamils were being herded as part of what she described as "a brazen, openly racist war." Ruvani Freeman, a Sri Lankan writer called Roy’s remarks "ill-informed and hypocritical" and criticised her for "whitewashing the atrocities of the LTTE."
Views on the Naxals
Roy has criticised government’s armed actions against the Maoists, calling it "war on the poorest people in the country". According to her, the government has "abdicated its responsibility to the people" and launched the offensive against Naxals to aid the corporations with whom it has signed MoUs.
In August 2009, MiD DAY reported how the same artist, Dr Pranava Prakash, an Institute of Management Technology (IMT) alumnus, created a canvas that shows a female artist painting MF Husain, as he stands framed against his trademark works. In the painting, Husain is depicted standing with a weasel and a palette. And the artist’s inspiration for this controversial painting seems to be a group of woman painters who had taken offence at the master’s depiction of the fairer sex in uncompromising positions.
The artist said his paintings reflect his anger against those who disrespect women and justify violence against the fairer sex in the name of tradition. "There has been an increase in attacks on women in the name of moral policing. It is nothing but male chauvinism. The hooligans who attacked the pub in Mangalore in January said they were angered by girls drinking and having fun. But they conveniently chose to ignore boys who were doing the same. Does Western culture corrupt girls alone? This duplicity is the distorted face of modern Indian tradition. And I oppose this," said Dr Prakash. The exhibition was inaugurated on Independence Day, at All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (AIFACS), in New Delhi.
Other artwork by Pranava Prakash, which will be exhibited at Lalit Kala Academy between 22 and 28 March:
Hero of India’s freedom struggles and messiah of non-violence Mahatma Gandhi pointing a gun towards the biggest ’treasure-hunter’ India has seen former union telecommunication minister A Raja, this composition invites instant participation from viewers and raise simple but strong emotions. This is a humble composition with strong imagery and show of abject frustration of middle class towards nexus of business and politics who are looting public money. It is a mix of sketch and some broad brush stroke. Mahatma’s act is quite against his thought but artist who himself is a practising Gandhian, says it is not as if Mahatma is endorsing violence but it shows a state of defeat and disbelief Mahatma would have gone through if he had been at all to India of our times.
India’s Most Beloved Sons
The picture depicts MF Husain in the nude, being painted by a women artist. True to the style of socio-pop this is again a composition depicting Dawood Ibrahim and MF Hussain in the same frame, juxtaposed to each other. The artist is very forthcoming in his saying that the act of MF Husain leaving India was an act of disbelief in Indian Judicial System. And it is common with Dawood Ibrahim, both of whom have fled the nation to escape trial.
Pink Chaddi Campaign
The Pink Chaddi Campaign was a non-violent protest movement launched in India in February 2009 in response to notable incidences of violent conservative and right-wing activism against perceived violations of Indian culture, when a group of women were attacked in a pub in Mangalore. The campaign was conceived particularly in protest against a threat by Pramod Muthalik of the Sri Ram Sene, an orthodox Hindu group. This protest was started by four young women, who asked people to send pink underwear to Muthalik’s office on Valentine ’s Day.
In October 2009, wearing body suits splattered in red and masks of a cow and a horse, activists of an animal rights group painted a gory picture of animal slaughter to protest the international leather fair that begun in Delhi. Their aim was to sensitise people about animal cruelty and to raise awareness that leather is dead skin. The protest was held in Pragati Maidan, the venue as the leather fair. PETA group dressed as a "skinned cow" and a "skinned horse" and slept in an open show box which had tags of well known leather products.
In October last year, an ex-BSF soldier marched naked in protest against injustice. Ashok Kumar Sirohi alleged that he was ill-treated by his department and was expelled on medical grounds. Sirohi claims that he is fit and ready for his job. The jawan and his young kids marched naked through the heart of the city as a mark of protest. Ashok wanted to meet Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi but the cops detained him while he was walking naked on Rajpath. Ashok threatened that if he didn’t get his job back, he would commit suicide.
Founded in 2010, ’Choosna Bandh’ campaign was launched on Facebook when a retired Air Force officer and his son were allegedly assaulted for standing up against the corrupt practices of the Sector 33, Noida Registrar’s office on November 19 last year by the sub-registrar (RK Gautam), the General Secretary Deed Writers & Bar Association (Lakhi Chand Sharma) and their goons, in full public view. They caught them on camera taking bribes, and were going to report them to the police.
Silent and sound
In February, Mangalore witnessed a unique protest. Around one lakh Christians and secular-minded people marched with black flags in hand and black cloth tied to their mouth, indicating silent protest against church attacks in 2008. The march went on from the Jyothi Circle to the Central Grounds on 20th of February 2011. It was organised by the Catholic Diocese of Mangalore together with different Churches and secular-minded associations. It took around one and a half hour for the entire procession to reach the Central Grounds.
Courtesy: Photo & News by Mid-Day