Art: P. L. Jose and Neha Utmani hope to highlight the difficulties faced by the disabled, through their exhibition
What spurred him to want to create awareness of the disabled was an article he chanced upon earlier this year, about an above-the-knee amputee who was asked to remove her prosthetic leg at the airport and pass it through the scanner, after being told that they had to verify whether she was carrying something in her leg.
“I felt very strongly about it, I am slightly short of hearing. I talked to Neha, with whom I have been doing exhibitions, and we decided to collect articles from newspapers about the disabled,” says the artist P. L. Jose, who recently, along with Neha Utmani ,worked on an exhibition to create awareness for the disabled at Thalam.
This they did, by filling the entire space of the gallery with clippings and print-outs of newspaper articles on various issues related to disability in India. The articles were sandwiched on either side by running strips of caricatures. The artwork also includes a set of sculptures, plaster of Paris casts of body parts.
“This is to signify diversity. If you look at the sketches, they all face the same direction. They exit on the same plane and they don’t communicate. It’s not a dialogue; it’s a monologue of sketches. The sculptures signify the functionality of each body part to say that diversity does not just exist between genders. We are trying to say that some trees grow in deciduous forests and some grow in coniferous forests but they all belong to the same Earth,” says Neha.
The articles, put together like a collage, convey what is happening in the public spheres of the lives of the disabled. “This kind of work is called an assemblage.”
Through the exhibition, the duo say, they want to highlight the difficulties faced by people with disabilities, particularly when it comes to their dignity as individuals. And so they spent a few months collecting articles from major newspapers and later online.
“We wanted to showcase information regarding the problems faced by the disabled; the good work done by corporations, individuals and the government for the disabled; blog posts by doctors, academics and policy makers about their experiences in the disabled sector and the struggles of the disabled who are fighting for their dignity, for the implementation of the law,” says Jose.
Through the exhibition, they also drew attention to the existing laws for the disabled, especially the Disabilities Amendment Act of 2012.
“This kind of art can also be called consumable art, as people can use the information. For instance, there is a law about three per cent reservation for the disabled in corporates which if incorporated, offers some benefits to the organization. So if a corporate employee reads this information, he may be able to go back and use it. When people read something, they usually go back and tell somebody else, without us having to push anything.”
The duo now plans to take the exhibition to other venues and later, other cities. “As of now, the NGO Dream A Dream has offered us a space to display the same exhibition. We are also planning to take the exhibition to other cities, where we will localize, this means that we will be putting up articles from regional or local newspapers. For instance, when we go to Kochi we would cut out articles from Malayalam newspapers,” says Neha.
For details about the exhibition, call Neha Utmani on 9880451270.