Art and culture is always a reflection of the society and its status. Since the age of renaissance and reformation art and culture has played a crucial role in determining the critical textures of society. In India since Indus Valley times art and culture has reflected the society of erstwhile times.
Art and Society in light of recent developments
For long we have believed that the arts bring people together; that those belonging to different sides of the fence, with opposite world views, merge in the presence of beauty. We are not looking for earth-shattering, radical shifts, but cumulative subtle movements that allow for a discourse. The problem probably lies with the presumption that the art world and artists come together in wonderment of aesthetic beauty, irrespective of its originating social and cultural address.
- Books being banned on protests by fringe elements
- Film makers and writers facing brunt of censor and clash of ideas and ideologies.
- Killing of some rationalists that included famous Kannada writer M M Kalburgi
- Ban on Mathorubhagan a book of Perumal Murugan on its dialectics with society
Art and its dynamics
- Art is a generic term encompassing every one of its created manifestations. But every art form is a distinctly individual, with a specific intention that drives its aesthetics, interpretations and evolution.
- Beyond superficial identification signs, every art form has an interior that is uniquely precious. The soul of each art form lies in that purpose and cultural construct.
- There is one thing that binds all art: the chance that a genuine art experience can reconfigure human beings and change the way we receive ourselves and life around.
- The life breath of art is the challenge it poses to the status quo.
- Art must make us question our strongest beliefs and redraft our coordinates.
- Serious discomfort is beautiful; it unshackles our minds from predisposed mindsets.
- Great pieces of art play with the way we are wired, and when that happens we receive with an openness that is rare.
- This does not happen easily since every art, its artists, and the community that constitute its environment collapse on to each other, establishing an inseparable dependency, becoming a socio-cultural flagship.
- Therefore, if art is to play a role in social transformation, it needs to unstrap itself from this bind, rediscover its essence from within and in relation to the outside. This can only happen if in the curation of art there is a conscious intention to break pattern-determined norms.
T M Krishna
- The author is a Carnatic vocalist, author, and recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award.
- What has art to do with Ramon Magsaysay – He is a public speaker and writer on human choices, dilemmas, concerns and matters musical.
- He has started and is involved in organisations whose work is spread across the whole spectrum of art and culture including research, documentation, education, activism and supports artists from economically and socially marginalised communities.
The Urur Olcott Kuppam Vizha
- This is one such idea that is challenging to break free of the scaffoldings that limit our perception of art, ourselves and all those we encounter.
- Everyone becomes vulnerable and that is where change begins, be it cultural, social or political. The festival is situated in an unusual space, within a fishing village, on the rim of Chennai.
- This shift obligates a certain class to step out of its sense of ‘normal’. Using a common public place like a park would have been one step, but to curate art in a space that the traditional middle-upper middle class is unfamiliar with, even alien to, unsettles the mind.
- After initial moments of discomfort, something magical happens. The unfamiliarity of the space and the lack of known external support structures dissolve socially imbibed judgments and allows for an unhindered reception.
- For those who live in the kuppam, this has been an opportunity to experience art forms that they thought were exclusive to ‘certain kinds of people’. Their own suspicions of people like ‘us’ is addressed without verbal articulation.
- Learning and unlearning happens through and from the art experience. Each Pay Commission has enlarged the civil service pay packet and perquisites. You don’t have to exert yourself on the job to earn a promotion.
- When an art form remains within its own fiefdom, it is permanently secure. If we strip art of this safety bracket, it is in free fall. And real art happens in free will, when rejection is also a distinct possibility.
- When art and receivers are completely open, there is an aesthetic tension that exists. It is from this place that empathy and understanding evolve.
- Classical artists are not used to this kind of rejection; at the Urur Olcott Kuppam Vizha, this is entirely possible.
- For the marginalised art forms, this space has given cultural strength and has forced the privileged to feel beyond sympathy; it has forced them to recognise, respect and embrace.
- The classical environment also needs to be stirred and shaken. Hence, this year, the non-classical and marginalised art traditions are being presented for the first time in a classically tagged space.
- The process, socio-cultural positions occupied by people and art forms are once again inversed. There are new reorientations for both worlds.
- Ina an age where freedom of expression is facing tough times and challenges from both state and non state actors, the concept of the event is unique.
- It is similar to a literature festival which allows grind of thoughts and a healthy debate on societal dynamics from multiple perspectives.
- Especially coming from Tamil Nadu the land of Dravidian Culture that has traditionally challenged the majoritarian domination it holds relevance.
- It also caters to marginalised and weaker sections by giving a voice to the same.