Says danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, while inaugurating a poetry installation at Kochi
By Shevlin Sebastian
“I am Bose,” said Bose Krishnamachari, the Kochi Biennale founder, and held out his hand towards eminent danseuse Mallika Sarabhai at the Durbar Hall, Kochi.
“Of course I know who you are,” said a smiling Mallika. “The Biennales have just been wonderful.”
Mallika had come to inaugurate a unique poetry installation, which combined literature, sound, art and culture. She is a striking woman, with high cheekbones and flashing eyes, and with a fashion style of her own: she wore a large earring on one ear and a smaller one in the other, while a several- beaded necklace adorned her neck.
But what she spoke struck at the heart of the state of present-day society. “If you look at the history of any ancient civilization, the arts did two things: the arts educated and it critiqued,” said Mallika. “But somehow, because of the development of a capitalist culture, there is a culture of giving awards, a culture of doling out money, and giving freebies. As a result, the voice of artistes in India has become the voice of advertising. More and more artistes sing the song of the rulers, whether the rulers were kings earlier or politicians now.”
The greater part of the arts today has become uncritical and remains in the realm of safety, she said. “We have lost our voice and have been deafened by noise: intellectual, political and mercantile,” said Mallika. “We study, but we don’t learn. We learn, but we don’t become wiser. We listen but we don’t hear. We have forgotten to listen to either our own truths or the sounds of nature.”
For the audience, who listened raptly, these were disturbing truths in an era of fast living and little inner reflection.
(The New Indian Express, Kochi)