Jun 2, 2016


In my upcoming novel, the protagonists talk about the relevance of museums, they even visit one. Ostensibly a mystery, the novel is also about the various dimensions and the relevance of art. As I read the controversy surrounding the MOU with regards to Venkatappa Art Gallery, I find myself struggling with the same questions again. It is quite distressing.

Depending on one's distaste or even distrust of the institutions and philosophies involved, the whole issue can be reduced to - negligence, corruption when we talk of the government body and greed when we talk of the private body. 'What good is displaying the best artwork if no one is there to see it?' One can hear the question. 'Is there nothing beyond the reach of the greedy tentacles of commoditization?' One can hear that question too.

Historically, it hasn't always been the kings and queens but rich individuals too who have patronized artists and musicians and writers. Nor have governments always been neutral and judicious when it comes to preserving art. The private sector and a democratically elected government both are after all not isolated from the society but are the results and reflections of the same set of  guiding principles that the society operates on.

I personally like the idea of government managing the art gallery. The MOU feels completely unnecessary and ill-thought. I also believe while the government should not be needlessly big, the tax-payer money is well-spent on such programmes. In the same vein I think government should not close down post-offices in rural areas where there is no business, that they should run healthcare facilities where no for-profit hospitals would go. That their purpose is to think long term, beyond monetary profits. But I am reluctant to subscribe to the view the government knows better. Or that the government always would do the right thing.  

June 02, 2016