When the museum administration interns at DakshinaChitra in Chennai brainstormed concepts for its ongoing exhibition, one recurrent theme that they landed on of their discussions was ‘democracy’. “We wondered how we could put forth such an abstract idea through an exhibition, without making it pedantic?” says Rituparna Pal, an intern.
Editorial cartooning can be their finest wager, determined Rituparna, together with the group of 10 interns, she is a part of. They then put collectively Cartoon-o-cracy, an exhibition that traces seven many years of Indian democracy by way of political cartoons. The group collected cartoons from 1950 to 2020, every decade getting its separate part. The post-2010 interval has a complete collage to itself — “For post 2010, we have done a collage of cartoons to signify the boom in digital media and to show that political cartooning is not confined to the newsroom anymore,” says Rituparna.
The cartoons give attention to historic occasions which have been vital for our democracy or could have threatened the republic in any method. “We have highlighted how cartoonists have chosen to respond to these events. During the ’50s, Shankar was the towering figure, and we have displayed his portrayal of Nehru’s dilemmas. At the same time, there are the cartoons of BR Ambedkar which are problematic. We noted how even cartoonists are not free from prejudices,” she says.
Within the 1970s, with the Emergency beneath Indira Gandhi’s rule being probably the most noteworthy occasions, the cartoons spotlight Abu Abraham’s Non-public View on Indian Specific and the stamp of censorship on them, in addition to criticism of different Authorities insurance policies comparable to obligatory vasectomy.
The 1990s noticed the demolition of the Babri Masjid, propelling a sequence response of occasions which decide our nation’s secular cloth even right now. Caricatures of LK Advani and his ratha yatra by RK Laxman is among the many cartoons displayed on this part.
“We could not include regional artists due to constraints of time and space. So we focussed on national cartoonists like Shankar, Kutty, Abu Abraham, OV Vijayan, RK Lakshman, Maya Kamath, Mita Roy, Rajinder Puri, EP Unny, Ajit Ninan, Aseem Trivedi, and Surendra,” she says. The group then gathered the cartoons from on-line sources and categorised them into totally different themes comparable to political, financial, social and leisure.
“Then came the most difficult task of finding the dates and the sources of the cartoons,” she says, including that they referred to Ritu Gairola Khanduri’s Caricaturing Tradition in India: Cartoons and Historical past within the Trendy World and Unnamati Syama Sundar’s No Laughing Matter: The Ambedkar Cartoons 1932-1956, amongst others.
The exhibition may even display two quick movies. One in every of them is is, Don’t Spare Me Shankar, by Gurcharan Singh. The opposite one is concerning the Propaganda mannequin, postulated by American activist and linguist Noam Chomsky, which says that the mass media goes by way of 5 filters of possession, funding, sourcing, going through flak, and the worry ideology.
“Cartoons, as a form of art, can evade these traps and put forward arrays of opinions that exist in society,” says Sreya Mukherjee, one other intern who labored on researching for, and curating cartoons for the exhibition. “No matter what governments have done, cartoonists have made sure democracy is kept alive. The small corner that they occupy in the newspaper is pivotal for us. Through just a few strokes here and there, they have made sure that we have our freedom of expression.”
Cartoon-o-cracy is ongoing at Kadambari Artwork Gallery, DakshinaChitra till March 5.