Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another Creative Arrest

I keep reading, in flits and starts in my Google Reader, about this student (and now is it a group of students?) who got arrested in India for creating a piece of disturbing art.

The fact that these are the only details I can remember of the story at the moment shows how I have let the event stay only at the horizon of my consciousness (most of it being occupied right now with dreamier things).

However, since I've taken a stance against arresting students for creative work and since I'd like to continue forward with these convictions, I sat down today to learn some more about this particular situation.

Here's a few of the more interesting details:

The student in question, Chandramohan, is Hyderabadi, though the arrest took place at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, which is a city I have to admit I'd never heard of before today.

The student was arrested for creating two pieces of art: a painting of a somewhat abstract naked woman, and a sculpture of a crucifix mounted above a toilet seat.

The decision that the works were offensive came from outside the university community, and the students and faculty at MSU responded by mounting a gallery of "the long history of Erotica in both Indian and Western art." And then they refused to let the police close it down.

If you've read this far, please continue on to Shripriya's post, as all of what I learned about this incident I picked up from her collection of articles on the story -- and because she writes about it much more cogently and succinctly than I do. DesiPundit has also been following it pretty closely.

I suppose the most interesting aspect is the university's response -- very different from that in the Allen Lee case. The "offensive" material at MSU was, however, sexual rather than violent, which perhaps is the fundamental difference between the two students' creative output, and the reason why people are banding around Chandramohan and shunning Lee.

But... it seems a cultural difference as well. When is the last time anyone in America staged a really good protest against censorship? Even the NEA Four fought their battle alone...

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