Artful Mapping in Bazaar India
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Subhash C. 25/05/2012 02:57:47
Sumathi, I am sorry, but your term "barefoot mapmaker" is a very disturbing one. Which century are you living in. Even your definition of barefoot-ness as "more earthbound and fleshly relationship to soil, land, and territory" is a problematic one - it presents a very naive picture of an Indian barefoot artist going around from place to place with his drawing book and pencil and drawing "his vision" of the place. I don't think any of the bazaar artists can do their work without referring to what are called the "standard" maps issued by the state agencies. None of the map-posters used in your essay have a problem of "accuracy" - they all stick to the formal boundaries. The ones that look flexible in their depiction are simply artworks rather than actual maps, although the lines between these may be blurred. Have you ever seen a bazaar artist's studio or shop and what sort of "raw material" they depend on? Well, a large number of studios keep old "foreign" glossy magazines and even advertisement "Black books" as references for all visal material. You may have probaby seen the pastiche work by the poster makers in Pakistan where they cut and paste from Swiss landscapes and foriegn magazines for every poster. I don't know where you got this idea of the barefoot artists (maybe a phrase from your M.F.Husain work, which is fine). But no bazaar artist goes around without shoes these days. Yes, people in south India do go around a lot without shoes as the climates demands it, but why shouldn't an artist consider himself a "gentleman" if he wants to. (See the photo of artist K. Madhavan on your website - he doesn't look barefoot). Why should Tasveer Ghar treat all "calendar" or "bazaar" artists as too poor to afford shoes - why can't their art be treated equal to Rembrandt? Aside from this, I enjoyed reading your essay. thanks