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Indian advisory to Beijing gallery is unacceptable

27 July 2012

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The Hindu, July 27, 2012

Say no to censorship

FOCUS: A video frame grab from Tejal Shah’s 2003 work "I Love My India", which was one of the exhibits at Beijing.

We are shocked to read in the report “India asks Beijing gallery to censor art show” (The Hindu, July 25, 2012) that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has asked the organisers of “Indian Highway,” the travelling exhibition of contemporary Indian art, to remove a video work from the show, currently in the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing.

The 2003 work, “I Love My India” is by Tejal Shah from Mumbai and has been shown in countless exhibitions in India and around the world before.

That its subject is the communal killings in Gujarat in 2002 is only indicative of the fact that many contemporary artists in India have focussed on communal, political and social problems which we have faced in the last two decades. We have fought hard to uphold the right to free speech which is a pillar of democracy.

The exhibition has already been seen by thousands in London, Oslo, Rome and Lyon. It is ironic that our government would seek to censor the exhibition in China.

The exhibition is in a private space and has not been sponsored by the government. Even if it had been, such censorship is totally unacceptable.

The Ministry should immediately withdraw any such advisory and the video should be reinstated right away.

Signatories: Ram Rahman, Vivan Sundaram, Geeta Kapur, Dayanita Singh, Shireen Gandhy, M.K. Raina, Madangopal Singh, Bharti Kher, Subodh Gupta, Devika Daulet Singh, Ranjit Hoskote, Parthiv Shah, Vidya Shah, Indira Chandrasekhar, Rajendra Prasad, Gigi Scaria, Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya, Nilima Sheikh, Pushpamala N., Peter Nagy.