‘Seeing, and not Seeing’ by Amarjit Chandan


Everybody was busy recording the Olympic torch relay
through the glass lens, except for two curious children

‘The camera relieves us of the burden of memory. … The camera records in order to forget. … All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget. … Paintings record what the painter remembers.’
John Berger
In ‘About Looking’ (1980) and ‘Photocopies’ (1996)

In Spitalfields, East Lon¬don, hardly anybody was watching Olympic torch relay with the naked eye. They were all busy record¬ing the event through the glass lens, taking pictures, except for two curious small children. Watchful security was part of the spectacle. The camera was the screen between the eye and the event. The torchbearer was not the centre of attention (who was he?), the torch was – held high with the flame hardly visible in day light. They were filming live theatre. The void.

What was really happening? Was it a paradox of perception — seeing and not seeing at the same time? Why we don’t see any more as we used to up until only a generation ago? The world we experience around us is no longer free of all mechanical optic equipment. In events such as these, we tend to lose pres¬ence and postpone our palpable collective experience hoard¬ing digital images in memory cards (the highest capacity for flash memory cards is currently 128GB) to see them later seen through a tunnelled viewfinder – which is not first-hand experi¬ence — it is virtual, partial, and flat.
A glass lens ranging from fisheye to panoramic field of view has replaced 180-degree forward-facing horizontal field of view of an individual human eye.

Perhaps one of the spectators was a painter. One day he would draw the scene in the photo¬graph he collected retracing it on the canvas. Photographic memory?
Has the camera made our experiences richer?

IMAGE AND WORDS BY AMARJIT CHANDAN

First Published at
Daily Post, Chandigarh 19/08/2012
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Indian Artists divided over art show in Israel

Artists’ fraternity split wide open over art show in IsraelBy Saumit Singh
The Mumbai Mirror

An upcoming show in Tel Aviv, billed as the first major Indian art exhibit in Israel, has assumed shades a full-blown controversy that has split the artist fraternity.

Some Indian artists, who are sympathetic towards the cause of Palestine, have decided to skip the event and have called for a “cultural boycott of Israel”. Other invitees, however, have criticised this approach, saying art should not be mixed with politics.

The person leading the call for a boycott of the event, Deconstructing India, is 55-year-old Pushpamala N. She is among the 20-odd art figures invited to participate in the show, which will be held at the newly constructed Amir Wing of the Tel Aviv Museum in April 2012.

Pushpamala, a Bangalore-based photo artist, first dashed off a mail to the show’s curator, Tami Katz-Freiman, declining the invite. She then launched a signature campaign to show support for a Palestinian civil society movement, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with the international law and respects Palestinian rights.

English novelist and art critic John Berger and author-activist Arundhati Roy are among the world-renowned names backing the call for a cultural boycott.

In her mail, which has been widely circulated among Indian artists and galleries, Pushpmala has highlighted the efforts of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). “If we exhibit in this show we will be legitimising the racist and apartheid policies of the Israeli Government,” she has stated.

A section of Indian artists, including Tushar Joag, holds a similar view. “We are in the process of collecting signatures. I already have the backing of five participating artists and some more have expressed solidarity. Some artists are travelling, so I am just waiting to get a revert from them. I plan to issue a press statement in a few days,” Pushpamala told Mumbai Mirror.

Art critic Girish Shahane and senior artist Laxman Shreshta, however, are opposed to such an approach.

“If we start boycotting museum shows because of bad things governments are doing, where will it end? Why should Indian artists exhibit in China, when the regime there has been responsible for horrendous massacres and continues to deny basic freedom of expression to its citizens?” Girish has stated. “Associating art institutions and centres of learning, even state-funded ones, so closely with state policy is a silly mistake in my opinion, and tokenism of the worst kind as well.”

Shreshta said that there was no need to mix politics with arts. “It’s like the case of the rebel without a cause. I would not support Pushpamala at all. If India artists have been invited for this interesting exhibition, they should go there and show the world what they are doing,” he said.

Atul Dodiya made a similar point. “Any country which commits atrocities should be roundly condemned. But while even artists have political viewpoints, art itself cannot be a political tool. It is a means to create bonds, not break them. That is why even with Pakistan, we continue to maintain cultural relations. So why not Israel?”

Sudarshan Shetty, who has been invited to the show in Tel Aviv, feels boycotting the event would not serve any purpose. “I don’t have any fresh work to show there, so the curator is arranging for some earlier works of mine from private collectors. I will be participating, though I am still to figure whether others plan to,” he said. “I don’t think boycotting the show is a solution. You can instead use that opportunity to express your view. There are problems in almost every country, including India – so should we completely stop exhibiting our art?”

Other invitees are Ravi Agarwal, Atul Bhalla, Anita Dube, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Ranbir Kaleka, Jitish Kallat, Riyas Komu, TV Santhosh, Hema Upadhyay and Lochan Upadhyay. They may be forced to take a stand over the issue as the entire list of participants has been made public.

From http://www.mumbaimirror.com/

Uddari fully supports the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), and the Indian artists who are boycotting the Tel Aviv art show in 2012.
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Aravind Adiga Makes the Short List for Booker

Photo and information from CBC News

India’s Adiga, a former correspondent for Time Magazine, is nominated for ‘The White Tiger’, a novel described as a tale of two Indias in which a character moves from life in a village to entrepreneurial success.

At 34, he is the youngest writer on the short list. Adiga lives in Mumbai.

The 2008 winner will be announced at a London awards gala on October 14, 2008.

Previous Booker winners John Berger and Salman Rushdie, who were on the long list, did not make the cut.

Linda Grant, who captured the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2000 (When I Lived in Modern Times), is the only woman on the short list, for ‘The Clothes on Their Backs’. Born in Liverpool, she got her MA at McMaster University in Hamilton and did further graduate studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Others on the short list include India’s Amitav Ghosh for ‘Sea of Poppies’.

Amitav Ghosh and Linda Grant will be appearing at the 2008 Vancouver International Writers Festival this month. ‘The 21st Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival will present 69 events from October 21 – 26, featuring a lineup of award-winning and bestselling authors from around the globe’.
www.writersfest.bc.ca


The White Tiger: A Novel

Sea Of Poppies

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Sidharth’s Sammi Song, Chandan’s Poem by John Berger

In this second Sidharth/Chandan day at Uddari, we want you to know that there is an unusual and most inspiring rendition of ‘Sammi meri var main vari maiN vari aaN nee Sammiye’ from Sidharth, the painter of enchantments. It begins like an inspirational rhythm from Enigma, and then proceeds like the Passion of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, with a firm grounding in Punjabi alaap, basically ‘Sammi’.

The second recording is Amarjit Chandan’s Punjabi poem read by John Berger, a novelist and an art critic of international acclaim who has also written essays, screenplays and dramas to explore society and relationships.

John Berger
Photo By Maurice Casagranda

Web Thekanay:
John Berger
Amarjit Chandan
People Punjab, over 50 Portraits by Chandan at Uddari Art Exhibition
Sidharth
Baramah, over 30 Oil Paintings by Sidharth at Uddari Art Exhibition

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