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We need to politicise art: T.M. Krishna

Carnatic music maestro T.M. Krishna asserted his right to his unique form of activism – through his art – during his talk at the ongoing Tata Literature Live festival on Friday.

In the eye of a storm over the abrupt cancellation of his concert in Delhi under the aegis of the SPIC-MACAY Foundation, the Ramon Magsaysay awardee stated, “Art is all about empathy; it is something you start feeling for the people around you. You feel alive yourself. When I started feeling that a tag of activist was associated [with] me.”

In his 30 minute talk at the NCPA’s Tata Theatre titled ‘Art & Activism’, Mr Krishna said he viewed himself as a swimmer who keeps floating between various spheres and complexities of life in pursuit of the precious.

“The problem with [our] understanding of art is that we forget it’s a constant human endeavour with all its ugly sides to it,” he said.

Mr. Krishna has been questioned by purists for experimenting with classical forms. In response, he said, “There is an aesthetic structure to my art which consists of three things — raga, thala and the text. Above that anything I do is social in nature which doesn’t have any rules.”

Right to disagree

According Mr. Krishna everyone has the right to hate his opinions and disagree with him but abuse on social media and cancelling shows was not the way to disagree. “This is a mere strategy to control the way people think,” he said.

Mr. Krishna said, the definition of being an artist is “when you are vulnerable and stripped of every support system, it’s then you recognise who you are”.

“Humans are conditioned to have control, to have power, to establish hegemony. The power is later established by creating binaries. For example if you are an environmentalist, you are anti-establishment; if you fight against discrimination on the basis of caste you are illiterate about Manusmriti; if you are a feminist, then you hate men,” said Mr. Krishna.

He added, “The moment you ask difficult questions, and continue asking questions, you are reduced into binaries. This needs to change. We need to politicise art. I don't know why politicising is a negative word. To have a political conversation, to be political is the most beautiful way of having a conversation.”

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 5:22:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tm-krishna-interview-we-need-to-politicise-art/article25520102.ece

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