'Art'istic way of raising funds for a crusade

'Art'istic way of raising funds for a crusade

It is a world without exits; a world where even the most functionally literate finds a language totally alien and incomprehensible. It is a tenebrous world where people shuffle in the Kafkaesque maze with hopes glimmering inside their hearts.

Man with a Wooden Horse, acrylic on canvass by Pratul Dash.

Seasons come and seasons go. Generations come and generations go. And the seekers with a weary trod pass on the weather-cracked tomes to their off-spring before fading into oblivion. But the quest for the glow of light called  Justice continues. And the journey inside the innards of the legal world swarming with cold, indifferent guides requires not just time, but also money.

The number of seekers of justice has been growing in these days of turbulent times where politically motivated polarisation of communities has turned lives of people into silent ravaged portraits with dripping eyes helplessly seeking retribution for the horrors and savagery that it was forced to see.
With the Indian sub-continent witnessing an increase in hate-crime and community-related violence, several social activi­sts have come together trying to raise funds so that victims of such hate crimes can fight legal battles.

Sustenance of any such legal battles which have pole-vaulted in recent times requires a substantial amount of fund.

Social activist Teesta Setalvad, who has been relentlessly fighting for the victims of  post-Godhra Gujarat riots, says: “The only recourse left for a victim is to seek justice in the court of law. And it is not easy for such victims who usually belong to poor strata to fight protracted legal battles.”
Thus the idea of “Art for Humanity.”

A platform which is more of a confluence of artists and photo-artists from different genres and schools of thoughts contributing their works so that monies can be raised for tackling time and money consuming legal wrangles that one usually encounters while battling crimes committed by groups espousing ‘majoritarian supremacy ideology,’ with a tacit support from the state.

The platform has been created to raise funds for the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP,) an initiative with a primary aim to fight injustice and also promote culture of human rights. The Art for
Humanity is the first such exhibition that CJP has put up after realising that pulling the long-haul of justice apart from grit also requires funds.

“This is our first such attempt,” says Setalvad, adding, “…it was surprising that artists themselves came out and gave us their finest works for exhibition.” The Art for Humanity at present being hosted at Ananda Coomarswamy Hall, in Mumbai’s famous Prince of Wales Museum, has works of 80 painters, artists and photographers put up on display.

And the unique aspect of the exhibition is that the display of the works is not theme based. “I had told them that they need not confine themselves to any theme espousing a certain ideology covertly or overtly,” Setalvad says, adding, “…they only took the decision as to which of their work they wanted to put out for the exhibition. And that is why you find that the works are so variegated and different. So if we have abstract painting of Nitin Dadrawala or say Akbar Padamsee then we also have impressionist work of Paramjit Singh and surrealist work of Anju Dodiya. And then we also kept the medium free giving spaces to photo-artists like Pablo Bartholomew, Ram Rahman and others.”

Talking to Deccan Herald, photo artist Rahman, one of the founding members of Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) from New Delhi, says: “The photograph which is on display was taken during Ramzan at Matia Mahal in New Delhi. The reason why I contributed this photo is because it is striking in its visual appeal and unlike my other complex photo-works this one will easily sell.”
Notwithstanding the visual appeal the photograph ‘Matia Mahal’,” softly blends the quietness of gloaming atmosphere with the reposed expressions of people sauntering in a market, evoking memories of world where once peace reigned.

While Rahman photograph exudes tranquility and Bartholomew’s chiar­os­curo photograph “Mosque in Pydhonie,” subtly depicts the looming fear which every minority community harbours in the recesses of mind through the depiction of a raging monsoon clouds hovering in the skies.
In contrast to the tranquil photographs, artists-Vivek Sharma and Pratul Dash
juxtapose realism with nightmarish surrealistic visions depicting the growing threat of fascism and the horrors of the post-communal riots era.

Need for funds

Talking on the funds raising issue, Setalvad said: “It is not an easy task. And the CJP has been carrying out crusade for justice with the help of individual donations from the country itself and partially since 2010 with the grant from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations. But then the legal battles need more funds and it is not easy to sustain a protracted long struggle. And it is precisely the reason why the CJP approached artists who jumped at the idea. In fact when we asked them we did not put any conditions as to percentage of proceeds of the sales. While 20 per cent of artists who have put up their work here have decided to donate 100 per cent of the proceeds, some of them have decided to contribute 30 per cent to 80 per cent of the total sale mount the work fetches. We are also planning now to hold music
concerts and also explore other art avenues for CJP’s crusade,” Setalwad added.

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