They say freedom comes for a price. That price in today’s scenario is equivalent to the cost of art supplies, fountain pen, 4G internet and a social media account. Art, in any form has been an integral part of the society and culture carrying efficacious messages that resonate among large audiences. Enormous strength and conviction is a prerequisite for artists to create something that instills the seed of curiosity and questioning among the most nonchalant minds resulting in transformational social change.
This is the era where politics and art have established intersection causing new paradigms, shifting boundaries and accelerating engagements of all the citizens of India; truly defining a democratic state.
Art or the artistic streak has been observed to be prevalent among free spirits and the unconventional; those who use the gifted freedom to express ideas, opinions and thoughts surpassing societal dogmas. Historically, a number of writers, painters, musicians and sculptors have challenged the political scenarios utilizing freedom of thought audaciously. For instance, Pushkin, Russia’s one of the first great writers instead of being a docile servant of the state, composed extremely iniquitous verses, making fun of the major and minor tyrants thus, attracted mad irritation of the Russian officialdom and particularly, the Tsar.
Over the last few years, a number of true activists, visionaries and artists have engaged in socio-political dialogues and social action through art forms in North Africa, South America, Middle East, USA, Israel and world over discussing diverse ideas in an attempt to shift extremism. Various perspectives on controversial subjects such as migration, terrorism, extremism, racism, women’s rights and color are coming to light by these artists curating unique points of view which in turn are giving the control in the hands of the common masses to speak the truth. India witnessed a two-day festival called the ‘Artists Unite’ in March 2019, inviting more than 200 artists from plethora of fields raising voices against supposed ‘assault on culture’ that the county has seen over the last 5 years.
In historical perspective, Indian poetry spread across the nation and developed in three stages: Imitation, Indianization and Individualization. In the earliest stage, poets wrote verses imitating English poets using Indian myths and legends of the Hindu rituals. This raised the creation of national awakening which transformed to Indianization in poetry via poets such as Sri Aurobindo, Sarojini Naidu and Rabindranath Tagore using Indian themes reviving the culture and the history of the country carrying with them the national identity. What completely took over was the Individualization wherein the poets turned inwards and explored the personal realization and identification of the socio-political development that reflected in poetry and write-ups regenerating the nationalistic spirit.
Indian poets Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar,’ Mahadevi Verma, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, and Maithili Sharan Gupt etc. turned true activists and nationalists with audacious words propagating the current political scenarios during pre and post independence. This earnest political outrage isn’t limited to current poets such as Kumar Vishwas but postmodern artists in the field of painting, graphic designing and sculpting are voicing their opinions asserting through various art forms. The present wave of politically aware artists are withering the enslaved consciousness of the masses and it is for the first time, a large number of youth is participating in following their rights and using freedom of thought, speech and expression to their zenith.
It is this new, postmodern wave brought by artists and intellectuals that is highlighting the essential push of extremist ideologies and fanatic political hurdles obstructing the development of the country and bringing people together towards social cohesion rather than division which the current political system is being accused of spreading. Some artists and critics however have stated that art is useless as a tool for political change. But as the unconventional understanding goes, and historically speaking, art and politics have confronted each other in revolutionary terms and most of the revolutionary ideas have emerged first among the artists and intellectuals. Political art today, is working on these variables: representing political oppression and injustice, sowing the seeds of alternatives and for many a lucid escape from politics.