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Time for Chintan

SHAILAJA TRIPATHI
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CHATLINE Artist Chintan Upadhyay talks to SHAILAJA TRIPATHI about surviving in intolerant times

It is a sheer coincidence that Chintan Upadhyay is on our pages in the week that first had Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, protesting against the “The Naked and the Nude” — an art show displaying some of the finest nudes our masters have done in the last century — at Delhi Art Gallery (DAG) and then the removal of Anirudh Sainath Krishnamani’s nude works from the walls of Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bangalore fearing a similar reaction from the moral police.

Media at its worst now

We meet him after he has returned from DAG, where a few artists had gathered to stage a peaceful protest against the groups disrupting the art show. I ask him if he would have been apprehensive about staging his performance “Baar, baar kitne baar? Har Baar…” — the artist sat nude inviting the viewers to daub him with saffron — today. The piece presented in 2005 in Vadodara was about the 2002 Godhra carnage. “I didn’t call anybody even then. Nobody from the media was invited. I had called one or two journalist friends who I knew were sensitive. When one piece appeared from Bombay, media in Baroda was very angry. I did it very quietly then and even today I will keep them away. The worst thing in our country today is media. They way they have done with Ashis Nandy and other people. Media has made everybody insensitive towards issues. Controversies are manufactured…There is a new middle class victimised by it…,” says the artist.

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