Protecting Art Institutions

July 02, 2015

This post is in solidarity with the FTII student protest happening in Pune right now. The protest has been going on for over 20 days, and a team will be visiting Delhi for further talks tomorrow.

The person appointed by the government as the Director of this prestigious institute is 'unsuitable', to be painfully polite. Moreover, many deserving luminaries in the country are overlooked. To me, it looks like trying to ideologically control art.

By this appointment, by equating an unqualified person to the highest, most respected artists, the government seeks to make blatant ignorance credible.  It is a step towards the death of expertise and the lowering of all standards that we live by. It cannot be tolerated. Should the wise and learned lead us to higher ideals or should the mediocre pull us down for fake and shallow contentment? 

Artists and students all over the country are supporting the protest, and very rightly so. Institutions of excellence in art have a deeper purpose - they are no playthings or factories to churn out what the government may fancy. You must hear the students' view, you will be surprised at the depth of their conversation!

People like Piyush Mishra, Tom Alter, Uday Prakash, Resul Pookutty, Kundan Shah, Anand Patwardhan and many more have stood up to support the cause. All these eminent personalities are unequivocal in their criticism – “We are not against him personally. We are simply questioning the credibility of anybody who is to hold such a post.”

It is amazing not only to see the steadfast protest, but also the amount of creative expressions coming out of the struggle; videos, films, poetry, music, nukkad nataks and much more are blossoming around the campus. The calibre of those protesting is evident. I'd like to see the government respond in kind ;)

If you ask me, this concern of political control and censorship is not just among film makers. This is a rising issue for all free thinkers who express themselves through art. Writers, painters, storytellers, illustrators, cartoonists, theatre artistes, musicians, poets, and the list goes on. Let the community stand in solidarity. I certainly do, and these images are my contribution and support.

These five illustrations are free for use in support of the FTII student protest or for the larger issue of artist autonomy. Feel free to use them in whatever way that helps the cause. Be creative, be free, be honest!

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