What You Need To Know About “Right To Dissent”
Until Monday, May 30, artist Tushar Joag can be found cocooned in a stuffy cage of
sorts at a ramshackle venue in Colaba. Why is he there and why should you care? Everything you need to know about “Right To Dissent”, a new art show that began at Clark House on Tuesday, May 24.
Why is Tushar Joag in a cocoon?
Contemporary artist Joag has long believed that good art has to socially engage, otherwise it ceases to be relevant. Last year, he embarked upon a circuitous motorcycle journey from Mumbai to Shanghai to comment on bilateral relations between India and China, and even set up a dummy corporation, Unicell that “suggests absurd solutions to the urban situations around him”. For “Right To Dissent”, Joag convened 11 other artists, who cobbled together this show to bring back the spotlight on human rights activist Binayak Sen. To do this, Joag will live, eat and sleep in an enclosure that has been walled up on one side by a dense wall of string. Other than a small slit, through which he will be passed water and food, Joag has nothing but a single pair of clothes (he does, however, have access to a toilet). He will pass his time by trying to fill as many notebooks as possible with the sentence: “I will not lose faith in the Indian Democracy and Judiciary.”
What’s all this got to do with Binayak Sen?
Binayak Sen was jailed by a Chattisgarh court and sentenced to life imprisonment for sedition. On April 15, he was released on bail by the Supreme Court, who found the Draconian sedition law and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act “outdated”. Shortly after, Union Minister for Law and Justice Veerappa Moily promised to revisit the law, and as a reminder, Joag will send him all the notebooks he fills up. “It’s in your hands,” says Joag. “The people of India have the option to repeal the law and they need to exercise it.”
Can you talk to Joag?
Joag suggests you don’t so that he doesn’t get distracted from the task at hand, which is to fill as many notebooks as he can (he averages about 20 pages per hour and his hand cramps frequently). What you can do is help him, by writing the same phrase in the notebooks left outside his cage.
Who else is in the show?
In addition to Joag’s self-installation, Riyas Komu, Shilpa Gupta, Bose Krishnamachari, Reena Kallat, Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya, Sharmila Samant, Justin Ponmany, Prajakta Potnis, the Desire Machine Collective and women’s rights organisation Majlis have contributed works. Among the highlights are Gupta’s rusted cages within a cage, Potnis’ room of moss and Kallat’s video work “Preface”, which projects the preamble from the constitution of India in braille, on a giant prayer book.
What’s the deal with Clark House?
The show was organised by Joag, in collaboration with the Mohile Parikh Center, the Committee for the Release of Binayak Sen and Clark House. In addition to being the name of the exhibition venue, Clark House is a loosely-formed art collective founded by curators Zasha Colah, Nida Ghouse, Sumesh Sharma and photographer Zubin Pastakia late last year. Colah, who also works as a curator for the Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (aka the Museum), says Clark House the collective will work on projects that “institutions here could have done”. In addition to talks and film festivals, they will also use Clark House the space as a venue for future shows.
The show will be accompanied by two film screenings, A Doctor To Defend: The Binayak Sen Story by Minnie Vaid and Prisoners of Conscience by Anand Patwardhan, on Friday, May 27 at the M. C. Ghia Hall in Kala Ghoda, and a panel discussion with Sen on Monday, May 30, at the same venue. For more details, see here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
8 Nathalal Parekh Marg
Opposite Sahakhari Bandar
Near Woodside Inn
Relevant DatesUntil Monday, May 30
Hours11am to 6pm
Ticketing & Price InfoFree