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We are shocked to read that the exhibition of photographs by Sunil Gupta mounted by the Alliance Francais in Delhi as a part of their Francophone Festival was shut down shortly after its opening. The show opened with a large attendance of Delhi’s artists at which Aruna Roy, the highly regarded social activist, also gave a speech. Apparently the Delhi police arrived at the venue on the complaint of an individual that there were nude images on display. One section of the exhibition had images made in Paris for a show of contemporary Indian art at the famed Center Pompidou last year, which had funded the project. There is nothing obscene about these photographs, many of which have been published in Indian newspapers and art magazines before and are in the public realm.
The Alliance Francais needs to publicly clarify if they were ordered to shut down the exhibit by the Delhi police and if so, on what grounds. If major institutions like them cannot stand up against complaints made by a single individual and support the work of an artist they have invited to exhibit, they do not deserve the respect or patronage of the art community. It is specially ironic that a French institution would buckle under so easily. We hope the Alliance will clarify the circumstances which have led to yet another instance of moral policing against the freedom of expression.
Ram Rahman, Geeta Kapur, Vivan Sundaram, Indira Chandrasekhar
The Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust