Demolition of Artwork by KMDA in West Bengal, India sign now

To
The Chief Minister
West Bengal, India


вIt is now the turn of art to be sacrificed at the alter of development in the culture capital.

Swagata (http://tapankar.com/picture_library/Swagata.jpg) в a sculpture of a woman in a welcoming posture, placed at the entrance of Salt Lake a decade ago is no more. It is destroyed to facilitate widening of the road around Island no 1 at Sector I. The 15-ft tall concrete statute had been created at the spot where it used to reside and had taken almost six months to complete. The statute had been unveiled in January 1997.

...в Hindustan Times, Kolkata Edition. June 23, 2007
(http://somdev.googlepages.com/HT.jpg)

The news comes as a shocking eye opener to all of us who had taken immense pride in the cultural ambiance patronized in Bengal. An artwork was destructed by a govt. organization in the darkness of midnight to avoid protests from the local residents !! This is perhaps the price we pay for our complacencyв when the saffron moral police had attacked M.F.Hussainвs art, we had gloated with a sense of superiority in contrast at the liberal artistic milieu cherished by our state, when similar goons had vandalized and intruded into the creative space of an art college and its students, we had breathed a sigh of relief at the possible impossibility of the act in the cultural haven of West Bengal.

Hundreds of other incidents like this, be it patronizing an artistвs space or protesting against such illustrations of vandalism, have reinforced our complacency in the ideal cultural ambiance fostered by our state. We have always known it as the safe retreat for the creative soul where the artist and his art is not only treated with utmost respect but also where any offense to art finds its loudest voice of protest.

Yet incidents like the KMDA act seem to shake the foundation of our faith. The statue got removed like some roadside garbage which needs to be removed for cleaning. It seems as if the work of art had become an unwanted liability for the KMDA. The extent of indifference towards the artifact can be gauged that the KMDA didnвt even consider it necessary to inform the artist before taking a decision about his creation !! Is minimal respect to an artistвs sentiment too much to ask from KMDA? Especially when it claims to be such a great critic of art!

Apparently the Bidhannagar Municipality chairman claims to tag вSwagataв as вnot a great piece of artв and worthy of being removed !! Does the KMDA qualify as a veteran art critic? How does the KMDA qualify to decide the worth and the fate of an artifact and use their judgment to treat it like a piece of a junk? Do the authorities realize that a work of art created by the artist in a spur of creative inspiration is basically different from copies of a factory product that can be re-created mechanically? Such gross insensitivity has lead to the destruction of a creative piece which perhaps cannot be re-created again.

An artistвs sentiment has been harshly assaulted in the cultural haven that we knew Bengal to be. And all in the name of development! Is this the price we need to pay for our so called progress?

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the barbaric destruction of an artwork in the cultural capital of India. We appeal to the Chief Minister to take necessary action to identify culprits behind this heinous act and make sure that a similar attack on art should not take place again in our state.

Thank you.

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Vicki StevensBy:
Politics and GovernmentIn:
Petition target:
The Chief Minister, West Bengal, India

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