Gandhi’s Dandi March inspires mega art project

November 9th, 2010 - 3:28 pm ICT by IANS  

By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, Nov 9 (IANS) In the last six decades, Mahatma Gandhi has influenced generations of Indian artists who have creatively expressed his contribution to India’s independence and the philosophy of non-violence - and now they will celebrate the famed Dandi March.

“The three primary influences that are steering contemporary reality art in the country are urbanisation, political resistance and violence. As a political icon, Mahatma Gandhi has a direct relation with all the three topics,” Anubhav Nath, who has curated a new art show on Gandhi along with Johny M.L., told IANS.

The show, “Freedom to March: Rediscovering Gandhi through Dandi”, a series of artistic interpretations of Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi salt march by 24 leading contemporary artists, will capture the spirit behind the historic journey 80 years ago.

It will be held at Lalit Kala Akademi Nov 12-18.

The artists include Atul Dodiya, A. Ramachandran, Alok Bal, Arunkumar H.G., Hindol Brahmbhatt, Jagannath Panda, K.G. Subramanyan, K.M. Madhusudhan, K.S. Radhakrishnan, Manjunath Kamath, Murali Cheroot, Prasad Raghavan, T.V. Santosh, Sumedh Rajendran and Vikcy Roy.

“Gandhi will not be translated in imagery; but aspects of his persona, contribution to India, philosophy and the fact of what Gandhi is all about will be interpreted by the artists. The works will resonate with what the artists thought on their way to Dandi and how it relates to contemporary India,” Nath said.

On March 12, 1930 Mahatma Gandhi left his Sabarmati retreat in Ahmedabad for Dandi, also in Gujarat, on a non-violent campaign to protest the British salt tax.

Gandhi refuted the British salt law by making and picking up salt himself. This simple act turned out to be one of the biggest symbolic acts in Indian political history, which triggered a wider civil disobedience movement.

The commissioned art works will be based on inspirations and images sourced by artists and curators in the course of five field visits to Sabarmati Ashram and Dandi.

“The idea for the project germinated in 2009 after reading a book, ‘The Salt March’ by Australian professor Thomas Webber, an authority on Mahatma Gandhi. I visited Sabarmati Ashram with friend Johny M.L. - and discussed the idea with the artists. They were ready to go,” Nath said.

Twenty of the artists camped in at least 14 villages along the 240-km route to Dandi to gather impressions and stories about the father of the nation by interacting with the villagers and visiting the local Gandhi memorials dotting the terrain.

Mumbai-based artist Gigi Scaria, known for his new media installations and sculptures, accompanied Nath to Dandi.

“I created two solid art projects for the show. One is a painting of Gandhi walking on the salt fields surrounded by elevated structures. The other is a distortion of the black stone sculpture, Gyarahmurthi in the capital (Delhi) that shows Gandhi leading the salt marchers,” Scaria told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

“My work, ‘Who Deviated First’ is a candid comment on the sculpture with the marchers scattering in different directions. The Hindu-Muslim and Christian unity enshrined in the march is in peril. The spirit of secularism has deviated from its path.”

The gamut of works in new media will include installations, sculptures, photographs, video art and conventional canvas compositions. The exhibition will be presented by Ojas Art.

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