The moral police have a brush with art

The moral police ensured that an art exhibition, explicitly titled ‘Tits, Clits n Elephant Dicks’, did not go on uninterrupted.

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Team DNA

MUMBAI: The moral police ensured that an art exhibition, explicitly titled ‘Tits, Clits n Elephant Dicks’, did not go on uninterrupted in Mumbai on Saturday.

Following an obscenity complaint by a woman named Pushpa Vitula at the Colaba police station, 12 policemen stormed the exhibition showcasing the works of Sanjeev Khandekar and Vaishali Narkar at the Jehangir Art Gallery and took pictures of the exhibits for evaluation.

Lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani says: “The police have no legal right to enter and inspect the paintings and installations as the exhibition is being held at a private art gallery. The lady, who found the exhibition obscene, went to view it out of free will. If she was offended, she had the choice to walk out. There is no question of conflicting rights or enforcing the law here.”

At the time of going to print, the Colaba police station was yet to register the case. Officials said they were still investigating the complaint.   nnnp18

“We have not still registered a First Information Report (FIR),” said the duty officer.
Police officials visited the exhibition twice but did not take away any of the exhibits for evidence after the artists told them that it would take away from the value of the exhibition, said Narkar.

Khandekar said that Vithula “did not approve of the paintings and had a heated argument with another observer. She got emotional about the issue. She walked away. Fifteen minutes later, the cops walked in.”

Earlier this week, a delegation of ministers had also approached cultural affairs minister Ashok Chavan demanding action against Khandekar and Narkar.

The exhibition features nude male and female mannequins, placed in painted and installed scenes of email inboxes full of penis-enlargement email and solicitations from prostitutes.

One of the installations is a cubicle in which the visitor sees the reflection of his head above a full-size painting of a masturbating man. The two side walls of the cubicle are fitted with mirrors, which make the visitor’s reflection recede infinitely.

Talking about the theme, Khandekar said, “Sex is a part of our biology and existence. I have only shown what all of us know. I have just put it out aesthetically.”

Visitors to the exhibition, though surprised initially, found themselves agreeing with the theme. “It may appear intimidating to some. But as one walks through, it seems like familiar territory,” said Sneha Yadav, an art graduate.

Art dealer and collector Ashish Balram Nagpal, who bought three pieces, said the exhibition was in-your-face but not obscene.

“This is one of the most brilliant exhibitions of the year,” he said. “Anyone who considers this obscene must have had their first orgasm here.” He added, “It’s artistically (and) aesthetically well-presented.”

With inputs from Suhit Kelkar, Poornima Swaminathan, Neeta Kolhatkar & Anshika Mishra.

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