Saturday, May 12, 2007

Artists from all over India come together to support Baroda art student Chandramohan on Monday, MAY 14, 6 pm. PLEASE JOIN US.

Artists from all over India come together to support Baroda art student Chandramohan on Monday, MAY 14, 6 pm. PLEASE JOIN US.

Artists from New Delhi, Bangalore, Cochin, Mumbai, Vishakapatnam, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kolkata and Santiniketan will come together on May 14 at 6 pm to register their protest against the highhanded action taken by the police under the instigation of a local politician against Chandramohan, a student from the Arts Faculty of Baroda University. 23-year-old Chandramohan, a final year MVA student, has been in police custody since May 9 when outside elements forced their way into the premises of the Faculty of Fine Arts, M S University, Baroda, without permission from the Faculty or University and prevailed upon the police to arrest him. Charging him under non-bailable Sections, they also imposed immediate closure of the examination work that was underway.

As a mark of protest, artists from the different cities will congregate to raise their collective voice against this violation of freedom of expression and autonomy of educational institutions. They will extend solidarity to the staff and students of Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda, who have not only stood steadfast with the incarcerated student Chandramohan, but have over many decades painstakingly built an academic institution of great repute and distinction. The Art History Department of M S University of Baroda is recognized all over the world as a center of excellence.

It is pertinent to state that the said works were part of the final year annual display and were being shown as part of an internal academic assessment exercise being conducted by the faculty. These works were not on public display and in no way intended to be exhibited for public viewing.

The academic functioning of the Department has been further eroded by the stand taken by the leadership of the University. The VC of the University has not only declined to file an FIR against concerned persons who orchestrated the entire violence but has also ordered the Dean and Faculty to tender an unconditional apology. He also passed an order on 11 May, directing the sealing of the Art History Department within the Faculty of Fine Arts for putting up an exhibition of reproductions of images drawn from across 2500 years of Indian art and suspended, the Acting Dean Dr Shivaji Panikkar, for a period of three months. The exhibition, with images from Khajuraho, Konark, Ragamala series, Lajja Gowri sculptures etc, was put together (as an academic response to redress gross misconceptions about Indian art and culture) and an expression of protest against the treatment meted out to their fellow student and colleagues. The University seems to be wanting to bring the Department of Art History under its direct control.
Meanwhile, the University has taken no step to give legal aid to Chandramohan, who is a bona fide student and Lalit Kala Akademi winner from Gujarat.

The action constitutes an assault on the core values of the University or for that matter of any academic institution in a democratic country like India. We, the artists of India, are marching together as a community to mark our deep dismay and consternation at the chain of events. It is of great urgency that Chandramohan, whose bail hearing has been postponed twice already, be released immediately. And the fundamental freedom of artists and individuals provided to us by the Constitution (be) upheld.

Please come to the meetings in large numbers and contact local/national media so that the event gets enough notice. The venues are being firmed up in the various cities and we will send out subsequent mails to inform you. As of now New Delhi meeting is at Rabindra BhavanMumbai at Jehangir GalleryVishakapatnam at Faculty of Fine Arts, Andhra UniversityCochin at Kashi Art Café